Pacific Talanoa: deep sea mining is no answer to the climate crisis

Tuesday 9th November / Wednesday 10 November via zoom | Register here

Rarotonga, Cook Islands 9 am Tuesday 9th November | Glasgow, UK 8 pm Tuesday 9th November | Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea 5 am Wednesday 10th November | Melbourne, Australia 6 am Wednesday 10th November | Suva, Fiji 7 am Wednesday | Nukuʻalofa, Tonga 8 am

Pacific Talanoa : deep sea mining is no answer to the climate crisis
Pacific Talanoa : deep sea mining is no answer to the climate crisis

Over 1.5 million square kilometres of the Pacific Ocean is under deep sea mining exploration leasehold. Promoted by the deep sea miner as an answer to the ‘green’ transition and climate action, it is poised to be the largest mining operation in history. But what is deep sea mining? Has it started yet? Can mining our deep seas be an answer to climate action? What will be the impacts on ecosystems and humans? Join this session with frontline Pacific voices in a talanoa (conversation) who are standing up, resisting, and mobilising against deep sea mining.

Speakers:

Dr Claire Slatter, Pacific Blue Line Collective, Fiji
Jonathan Mesulam, Coordinator, Alliance of Solwara Warriors, Papua New Guinea
Alanna Smith, Te Ipukarea Society, Cook Islands
Pelenatita Kara, National Coordinator, Deep Sea Mining Campaign, Civil Society Forum of Tonga

Moderator: Nat Lowrey, Deep Sea Mining Campaign

The session will run as a Digital Event and a session of the COP26 Coalition People’s Summit: https://cop26coalition.org/peoples-summit

Scientists call for moratorium on ocean mining, fearing impact on Pacific tuna fishery

By Brian Hagenbuch

Contributing Editor reporting from Seattle, USA

September 9, 2021

A deep sea mining rig


Around 500 scientists from 44 countries have signed a letter urging a moratorium on ocean mining, an activity that researchers say could be adversely affect fisheries, in particular deep-sea catches like tuna.

Scientists made the plea recently after an ocean-mining company and its host country, the Pacific island nation of Nauru, touched off a two-year rule with the International Seabed Authority (ISA), headquartered in Kingston, Jamaica. The two-year rule – triggered by Nauru on behalf of Vancouver, Canada-based Nauru Natural Ocean Resources Inc. – means that time is short for the ISA to set a code on the specifics of seafloor mining.

But researchers like Douglas McCauley, a professor of ocean science at the University of California Santa Barbara, told SeafoodSource that not enough is known about the impacts of seafloor mining on marine life.

“There has just been a lot of concern about this. We have 500 scientists saying we simply cannot activate this ocean mining, that we need to put a pause to it until we understand it’s impacts on the ocean and on fisheries, and we simply don’t have that science in hand,” McCauley told SeafoodSource. “Scientists never agree on anything, so it’s especially interesting to see 500 scientists signing on to the statement.”

If the process is not stalled, McCauley said that the policy developed in the next few months will shape the next century of ocean mining. Fisheries, he said, could be drastically altered. In seafloor mining, heavy equipment chews up the floor of the ocean. After the minerals are extracted, sediment-heavy wastewater is pumped back into the ocean via large tubes. Sediment from these plumes, researchers say, could end up in seafood and could smother the fragile forage base for fisheries.

Jesse van der Grient, a researcher from the University of Hawaii who is studying the potential effects of wastewater plumes on the fisheries, told SeafoodSource the effects of the plumes are still not well-understood by the scientific community.

“One of the problems that we have is that we need to know how far these sediment plumes will spread out from the ships they are discharged from. Right now, we don’t actually have good numerical models about how these sediment plumes are going to spread across the ocean,” van der Grient told SeafoodSource.

Van der Grient and her colleagues have assessed different plume sizes, and concluded that U.S. commercial fleets stand to have the most overlap with seafloor mining, in particular in the Clarion Clipperton Fracture Zone in the central Pacific. There, miners hope to dig up rich stores of nickel and cobalt – minerals used in the construction of lithium-ion batteries – but the area is also home to valuable tuna fisheries. A recent University of Hawaii paper concluded that mining plumes could overlap into 8 to 16 percent of current fishing grounds.

“I suppose on one hand, 16 percent of catch overlap doesn’t sound like much. However, I would just say that if folks had been given permission to mine on 16 percent of my land, I would care,” McCauley said.

It is not just the U.S. that could see adverse impacts. Studies have shown that fisheries in China, Mexico, Venezuela, Spain, the Philippines, as well as small island-nations could suffer from seafloor mining. Despite this, McCauley said there has been a notable absence of fisheries representatives in the discussions on ocean mining.

“There are representatives from a diversity of different ocean industries that could be affected by ocean mining present already in the negotiations on if and how to start commercial ocean mining at the International Seabed Authority meeting – ranging from the subsea cable industry to underwater munitions industry,” McCauley said. “But I have never met a fisheries representative sharing perspectives on what ocean mining would mean to the seafood industry at the ISA.”

McCauley said he does not know if regional fisheries management organizations are planning to weigh in on the seafloor mining debate.

“The only fisheries industry group that I am aware of engaging on the subject is the E.U.’s Long-Distance Advisory Council, which called for a moratorium on commercial seabed mining,” McCauley said.

Earlier this summer, the U.S. state of Washington banned offshore mining, and Pacific island nations Fiji and Papua New Guinea have shown an interest in an ocean-mining moratorium. Several major companies, including Samsung, BMW, and Google, have pledged not to use minerals from deep-sea mining in their supply chains.  

Photo courtesy of Yana Mavlyutova/Shutterstock

FI-E-FI-A A FAFINE TONGA

FI-E-FI-A A FAFINE TONGA

MEDIA RELEASE

EMBARGOED FOR RELEASE 16th October 2020

Local civil society groups sign MoU affirming solidarity in supporting government commitments to gender equality and participation and empowerment of women and girls in Tonga
Nuku’alofa, Tonga.

The Prime Minister, Honourable Dr. Pohiva Tui’onetoa officiated at the launch and signing of the Memorandum of Understanding of FI-E-FI-A ’a Fafine Tonga (FFFT) at the Epworth Hall, Friday 16th October 2020.
FI-E-FI-A ’a Fafine Tonga, formerly known as the Women in Leadership Coalition was renamed to reflect their solidarity in promoting the active participation of women and girls in all levels and areas of political, economic, cultural, private and public life. The signing of the MoU by the members endorses their unity on common principles, goals and values which will help manage competing priorities and ensure that they work collaboratively to progress and achieve the purpose of FFFT.

When officially launching the FFFT, Honourable Tui’onetoa said, “ I acknowledge the work the Chair and the women coalition have been doing to promote the rights of women and girls and I am embarrassed to hear that the number of domestic violence has increased during the lockdown period and we must do something to address this…”
Under the Memorandum of Understanding, all members of the FFFT agree to work together with other relevant stakeholders to honour, respect and support the government’s international, regional and national commitments towards gender equality and empowering women and girls through the National Policy on Women Empowerment and Gender Equality Tonga (WEGET) and under Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5.

More recently, FFFT under its former name of the Women in Leadership Coalition was instrumental in supporting and representing the voices of 564 women from the Informal Sector who were impacted by the COVID19 lockdown to access government’s grant in response to COVID19. The group is looking to continuing to promote women’s full participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic, cultural, private and public life.

FI-E-FI-A ’a Fafine Tonga comprises 6 representatives of organisations and associations working in the gender and development sector. Mrs Betty Blake, Chair of the FFFT highlighted that membership for FFFT is open and invited women’s groups and individual women who support the purpose, values and goals of FI-E-FI-A ’a Fafine Tonga to join the network.

The FI-E-FI-A ’a Fafine Tonga acknowledges the Balance of Power Tonga Country Program in facilitating and supporting FFFT’s work. Balance of Power is an initiative of the Australian Government-funded Pacific Women program.

ENDS

For further information, please contact,
Keasi T. Pongi
Executive Director – Civil Society Forum of Tonga
Baron Rd, Vaiola Motu’a Premises
Nuku’alofa, Tonga.
Phone: (676) 28282 / (676) 28140
Email: keasi.pongi7@gmail.com

Webinar | Consulting with Humankind: Integrating Stakeholder Voices in Deep-ocean Decision-making

The Pew Charitable Trusts - Wikipedia

This fifth webinar in a series organized by Pew and RESOLVE will provide an opportunity to hear experts’ perspectives on national and international systems for incorporating stakeholder input into environmental decision-making and learn how these might be applied to governance of the deep seabed in areas beyond national jurisdiction. During the webinar, Ms. Alex Herman, Seabed Minerals Commissioner at Cook Islands Seabed Minerals Authority, will present a national perspective on stakeholder participation through her experiences with seabed management in the Cook Islands. Ms. Elisa Morgera, Director, One Ocean Hub, will share an international perspective on stakeholder participation in international human rights and environmental law. Dr. Aline Jaeckel, Senior Lecturer, University of New South Wales, will provide her thoughts on the current landscape and next steps on stakeholder participation at the ISA.

In addition to the initial presentations, the panelists will discuss their thoughts on the key elements required for proper stakeholder engagement in environmental decision-making. For example, how can regulators identify and proactively engage stakeholder communities; and how can the ISA best integrate the views of stakeholders when that might include all of humanity?

RESOLVE will host the webinar on Wednesday, 10 November from 15:00 to 16:30 Eastern [10:00 – 11:30 Rarotonga, Cook Islands; 20:00 – 21:30 Glasgow, Scotland; 7:00 – 8:30 (November 11) Sydney, Australia].

REGISTER to participate here:

https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_0by4oIfLSZyi2KcQTV7mmA

Please note that to ensure wide participation of stakeholders in different time zones, the timing for future webinars will be staggered and sessions will be recorded.

THE OUTLAW OCEAN PROJECT: “Is the rush to mine the deep really the answer to our Climate change crisis or would it exacerbate the current problem”

Critics Question The Climate Crisis Benefits of Deep Seabed  Mining

Marta Montojo and Ian Urbina

SEPTEMBER 16

Few people have ever heard of the tiny country of Nauru. Even fewer ever think about what happens at the bottom of the world’s oceans. But that may soon change. The seafloor is thought to hold trillions of dollar’s worth of  metals and this Pacific-island nation is making bold moves to get a jump on the global competition to plumb these depths.  

The targets of these companies are potato-sized rocks that scientists call polymetallic nodules. Sitting on the ocean floor, these prized clusters can take more than three million years to form. They are valuable because they are rich in manganese, copper, nickel, cobalt that are claimed to be essential for electrifying transport and decarbonizing the economy amid the green technological revolution that has emerged to counter the climate crisis.

To vacuum up these treasured chunks requires industrial extraction by massive excavators. Typically 30 times the weight of regular bulldozers, these machines are lifted by cranes over the sides of ships, then dropped miles underwater where they drive along the seafloor, suctioning up the rocks, crushing them and sending a slurry of crushed nodules and seabed sediments from 4,000-6,000 meters depth through a series of pipes to the vessel above. After separating out the minerals, the processed waters, sediment and mining ‘fines’ (small particles of the ground up nodule ore)  are piped overboard, to depths as yet unclear.

But a growing number of marine biologists, ocean conservationists, government regulators and environmentally-conscious companies are sounding the alarm about a variety of environmental, food security, financial, and biodiversity concerns associated with seabed mining.

These critics worry whether the ships doing this mining will dump back into the sea the huge amounts of toxic-waste and sediments produced by grinding up and pumping the rocks to the surface, impacting larger fish further up the food chain such as tunas and contaminating the global seafood supply chain. 

They also worry that the mining may be counterproductive in relation to climate change because it may in fact diminish the ocean floor’s distinct carbon sequestration capacity. Their concern is that in stirring up the ocean floor, the mining companies will release carbon into the environment undercutting some of the very benefits intended by switching to electric cars, wind turbines and long-life batteries. 

Douglas McCauley, who is also the director of the Benioff Ocean Institute at the University of California Santa Barbara, warned against trying to counter the climate crisis with solutions that rely on a “paradigm of just ripping up a new part of the planet.” If the goal is to slow climate change, he said, it makes little sense to obliterate the deep-sea ecosystems and marine life that presently play a role in capturing and storing more carbon than all the world’s forests.

If the high seas represent the last frontier on earth, then the deep seabed outside of national waters is a frontier beyond that, a realm subject to a unique regime under international law, deeming the international seabed area and its resources to be managed by an international organization called the International Seabed Authority (ISA) on behalf of humankind as whole. “But who benefits and how from this new rush to seabed mining remains unclear,” said Kristina Gjerde, high seas policy advisor for the IUCN Global Marine Program. “And what constitutes benefits to humankind is also unclear as the deep seafloor is filled with untold biodiversity, much of it vitally important to the survival of our planet.”

Still, Nauru hopes to forge ahead with seabed mining. Located in Micronesia, northeast of Australia, the tiny island is among the smallest countries on the planet, with a landmass of 8 square miles and a population of around 12 thousand. By moving faster than its competition, this cash-strapped developing nation hopes to get an early edge on a potentially multi-billion dollar market even though Nauru itself is only likely to receive a small fraction of the financial benefits of seabed mining from the Canadian company it is sponsoring. 

In June, Nauru took the first step in launching the industry. It announced plans to submit an application for commercial extraction on behalf of its sponsored entity “NORI” as early as 2023 to the International Seabed Authority. Such an application will be judged against whatever the deep sea mining rules are at that time — finalized or otherwise. 

Over a dozen other countries, including Russia, the UK, India and China, have 15-year exploration contracts. The government of India has recently set aside $544 million to stoke private sector investments and technological research in this industry. But Nauru is taking the lead partially because its sponsored company NORI is a wholly owned subsidiary of a Canadian company that thinks it may benefit from being the first, based on its arguments that the minerals are necessary to enable the transition to a new green economy.  

International interest in seabed mining has been stoked partly by new advances in robotics, computer mapping and underwater drilling — combined with historically high but fluctuating commodities prices. Mining companies globally are said to be scouring for fresh reserves, having depleted much of the world’s easy-to-access veins. The metals they seek are used in magnets, batteries, and electronic components for smartphones, wind turbines, fuel cells, hybrid cars, catalytic converters and other high-tech gadgetry. These metals are commonly found on land but some raise concerns that these may not be enough.

“With dwindling resources on land, with exponential growth of demand, and a shortage in circulation (recycling), there is a need to find alternative sources of critical metals needed to allow the energy transition to zero-net carbon economies,” said Bramley Murton, a marine researcher at the UK’s National Oceanography Centre. It has been estimated that, collectively, the nodules on the bottom of the ocean contain six times as much cobalt, three times as much nickel, and four times as much of the rare-earth metal yttrium as there is on land. 

Mining companies and states have set their eyes on a specific part of the sea, an area bigger than the size of continental United States that stretches from Hawaii to Mexico, neighboring Nauru’s exclusive economic zone. The ocean floor under that area, known as the Clarion-Clipperton Zone, is estimated to contain metals valued at between $8 trillion and $16 trillion. 

Nauru has teamed up with NORI, which is owned by a Canada-based firm called The Metals Company to explore this area. “We are proud that Pacific nations have been leaders in the deep-sea minerals industry,” a statement co-authored by Nauru’s representative to the International Seabed Authority recently declared. 

Scientists have conservatively estimated that each mining license will permit direct strip mining of some 8,000 square kilometers of seabed over the course of a 20 year mining license from the ISA and ‘easily’ impact a further 8,000-24,000 square kilometers of surrounding seabed life by sediment plumes generated by the mining the ocean floor. They estimate that the ‘nodule obligate species’ – the animals living on the nodules or, like deep-sea octopuses, that otherwise need the nodules to survive – will take millions of years to recover and even the animals living in the surrounding sediment may take hundreds to thousands of years to recover from the impact of mining. 

Some corporate stakeholders are voicing skepticism. In March, BMW and Volvo Group, along with Samsung and Google, pledged to abstain from sourcing deep sea minerals. In its most recent global report, the International Energy Agency, a global body that advises countries on policy, concluded that seabed mining machines, “…often cause seafloor disturbance, which could alter deep sea habitats and release pollutants…stirring up fine sediments, could also affect ecosystems, which take a long time to recover.” In June, the European Parliament also asked the executive branch of the European Union to stop financing deepsea mining technology and called for a delay in more exploration operations.

UK House of Commons Environment Audit Committee in 2019 concludedthat deep-sea mining would have “catastrophic impacts on the seafloor”, the International Seabed Authority benefiting from revenues from issuing mining licenses is “a clear conflict of interest” and that “the case for deep sea mining has not yet been made”

One worry among seabed mining critics is that the industry’s giant suction, grinding and harvesting machines will kick up huge and suffocating clouds of sediment both along the seabed and high in the water column that block light, crowd out oxygen, produce harmful amounts of noise pollution and disperse toxins which decimate life and contaminate seafood. Such contamination could also pose a threat to the food security for developing and coastal nations whose fishing stocks and other seafloor marine life would be decimated. 

“We need much more time for research to be carried out, not by mining companies, but by independent seabed ecologists,” said Kelvin Passfield, who runs the Te Ipukarea Society in the Cook Islands and is part of a group of non-profit organizations in Fiji, Vanuatu and elsewhere in the Pacific islands that are concerned about the impacts of such plumes on local fishermen and food security.

Other critics see the mining as a ponzi scheme of sorts that is meant to draw venture capital investment but in fact has little real chance to make money in the long term. Matthew Gianni, co-founder of the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition, said that seabed mining companies are trying to peddle a false choice between having to mine cobalt and nickel on land or in the deep sea when they claim we need 100s of million of tons of these metals to build batteries for electric vehicles and other renewable energy storage technologies. “We don’t need to build batteries with either nickel or cobalt. Tesla and BYD, the world’s second largest EV manufacturer, are making cars with Lithium Iron Phosphate (LFP) batteries, with little to no nickel or cobalt, which are selling unexpectedly well,” he said. “There is massive investment now being put into developing batteries that don’t use these metals at all.” Better product design, recycling and reuse of metals already in circulation, urban mining, and other ‘circular’ economy initiatives can vastly reduce the need for new sources of metals, he said.

Once thought to be relatively lifeless, the deep sea is now seen by most scientists as a species-rich environment populated by creatures that thrive under conditions that seem impossibly extreme. And yet, much of its biodiversity on the seafloor is distinctly vulnerable to change because their habitat is so far removed and thus rarely disturbed. 

The oceans already face a daunting list of threats, ranging from overfishing, sonar testing, oil dumping, and plastic pollution, to sea level and temperature rise, acidification, oxygen depletion, algal blooms, and ghost nets. Add to those the additional strains faced by deep-sea marine life on the seafloor: internet cables, bottom trawling, treasure hunting, oil and gas drilling, coral bleaching, the sinking of retired drilling rigs. In 2019 the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) issued its Global Assessment report which estimated that a million species are at risk of extinction, many within the next several decades unless we reverse the drivers of biodiversity loss. 

One of the biggest challenges in stoking concern about this type of mining is that the seabed is so far removed — geographically, emotionally and intellectually — from the public that benefits from it. Most of the world’s seafloor is not even mapped but less properly or fully understood or robustly governed. Deep below the waterline it is always dark, its many of its inhabitants defy categorizations into the traditional animal-plant-mineral taxonomy. 

No solution to a problem as complex as the climate crisis will come without difficult decisions and heavy costs especially as the global public tries to wean itself from fossil fuels.

The hard part, though, is figuring out how to take one step forward without also moving three steps back. 

A guest post by

Marta MontojoMarta Montojo is Foreign Editor at The Outlaw Ocean Project and a regular contributor to a variety of venues including El Confidencial and Ballena Blanca.

Sign the petition! Pacific and World Leaders: Drawing the Pacific Blue Line against Deep Sea Mining

Friend,

I signed a petition on Action Network telling Pacific and World Leaders to Drawing the Pacific Blue Line against Deep Sea Mining.

There is no scenario in which DSM is permissible. If it’s not safe in our EEZs, it’s not safe in the Pacific as a whole, and therefore not safe for the world. A total ban on DSM is the only way to ensure the integrity of the ocean, the heart of our planet.

Can you join me and take action? Click here: https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/drawing-the-pacific-blue-line-against-dsm?source=email&

Thanks!

Pacific Blue Line

VANUATU DAILY POST: No To Deep Sea Mining

By Hilaire Bule Sep 9, 2021

No To Deep Sea Mining
Petitioners with Commissioner Garae

The government has been urged to ban deep sea mining in Vanuatu.

Peak bodies representing the civil society in Vanuatu, have reiterated their call to the government to ban seabed mining through a petition yesterday.

The petition was presented by the President of the Malvatumauri National Council of Chiefs (MNCC), Chief Willie Gray Plasua, to the Commissioner of Mines, Camillia Garae.

This latest call came during the final consultation meeting of the draft National Mines and Minerals Policy convened by the Geology and Mines Unit of the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources at the Chiefs Nakamal in Port Vila.

The petition was presented to Garae at the conclusion of the meeting.

Chairman of the Vanuatu Association of Non-Government Organisations (VANGO), William Nasak, and representatives of the Vanuatu Christian Council (VCC), Vanuatu National Youth Council (VNYC) and all peak bodies representing national civil society witnessed the petition presentation.

The petition noted that in 2014, when the government undertook its first national consultation on seabed mining, it found that people wanted the government to adopt a precautionary approach and did not want seabed mining to happen in Vanuatu. 

 In 2017, the petition further noted, the Vanuatu National CSO Resolution on Sea Bed Mining, signed by MNCC, VCC, VNCW, VNYC, VANGO, Media Association of Vanuatu (MAV), Presbyterian Church of Vanuatu (PCV) and other organizations.

They called on the government to ban all seabed mining activities now and including the future granting of titles permitting exploration for minerals or mining and the issuing of authorizations permitting seabed mining activities. Earlier this year, the same organizations along with many other Vanuatu NGO’s signed the regional “Pacific Blue Line” petition, which stated that “we call for a total ban on DSM within our territorial waters and in areas beyond national jurisdiction”.

The document known as Mines and Minerals Policy of Vanuatu, the draft for discussion which the Government is currently consulting on, includes a section on Deep Sea Mining. 

The petition presented yesterday reiterated that the people of Vanuatu do not want seabed mining to happen any time now or in the future. 

 The government is petitioned to make this position clear in the final Mines and Minerals Policy, which should categorically state that seabed mining is completely banned in Vanuatu.

Garae said the current consultation aimed to address loopholes in the current mining act which was first introduced in 1986 and only covers licensing, prospecting and exploration licenses, procedures and the royalty payment.

“Nothing else is captured within the current mining act such as there is no mention of environment, protection and fiscal regime on how the country can get revenue out of the mining activities”, she said.

She said some mining licenses were granted before the independence of Vanuatu in 1980.

Garae said currently there are 150 deep sea mining granted by Vanuatu government.

‘Momentous’ Moratorium on Deep Sea Mining Adopted at Global Biodiversity Summit

“Deep seabed mining is an avoidable environmental disaster,” said one expert on global ocean policy.”

JULIA CONLEY

September 10, 2021

A vote overwhelmingly in favor of placing a moratorium on deep sea mineral mining at a global biodiversity summit this week has put urgent pressure on the International Seabed Authority to strictly regulate the practice.

The vast majority of governments, NGOs, and civil society groups voted in favor of the moratorium at the world congress of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) on Wednesday, after several conservation groups lobbied in favor of the measure.

Eighty-one government and government agencies voted for the moratorium, while 18 opposed it and 28, including the United Kingdom, abstained from voting. Among NGOs and other organizations, 577 supported the motion while fewer than three dozen opposed it or abstained.

Deep sea mining for deposits of copper, nickel, lithium, and other metals can lead to the swift loss of entire species that live only on the ocean floor, as well as disturbing ecosystems and food sources and putting marine life at risk for toxic spills and leaks.

Fauna and Flora International, which sponsored the moratorium along with other groups including the Natural Resources Defense Council and Synchronicity Earth, called the vote “a momentous outcome for ocean conservation.”

The motion called for a moratorium on mining for minerals and metals near the ocean floor until environmental impact assessments are completed and stakeholders can ensure the protection of marine life, as well as calling for reforms to the International Seabed Authority (ISA)—the regulatory body made up of 167 nations and the European Union, tasked with overseeing “all mineral-related activities in the international seabed area for the benefit of mankind as a whole.”

In June, a two-year deadline was set for the ISA to begin licensing commercial deep sea mining and to finalize regulations for the industry by 2023.

“Member countries of the ISA, including France which hosted this Congress, need to wake up and act on behalf of civil society and the environment now, and take action in support of a moratorium,” said Matthew Gianni, co-founder of the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition, in a statement.

The World Wide Fund for Nature, another cosponsor of the motion, called on the ISA to reject the deep sea mining industry’s claims that mining for metals on the ocean floor is a partial solution to the climate crisis.

“The pro-deep seabed mining lobby is… selling a story that companies need deep seabed minerals in order to produce electric cars, batteries and other items that reduce carbon emissions,” said Jessica Battle, a senior expert on global ocean policy and governance at the organization. “Deep seabed mining is an avoidable environmental disaster. We can decarbonize through innovation, redesigning, reducing, reusing, and recycling.”

Pippa Howard of Fauna and Flora International wrote ahead of the IUCN summit that “we need to shatter the myth that deep seabed mining is the solution to the climate crisis.”

“Far from being the answer to our dreams, deep seabed mining could well turn out to be the stuff of nightmares,” she wrote. “Deep seabed mining—at least as it is currently conceived—would be an utterly irresponsible and short-sighted idea. In the absence of any suitable mitigation techniques… deep-sea mining should be avoided entirely until that situation changes.”

Press Release: TONGAN CIVIL SOCIETY CHALLENGES DEEPGREEN’S FITNESS AS A BUSINESS PARTNER FOR TONGA

August 30, 2021.

Civil Society Forum of Tonga (CSFT) has always cautioned the government since 2012 that Deep Sea Mining will bring doom to Tonga and its people will ended up paying a very hefty price for imminent environmental degradation and loss of livelihood for over 90% of its people.

The Ocean is the Oasis for all marine life. Human is tasked with protecting that Oasis and not destroying it. The threat of Deep Sea Mining (DSM) is real and irreversible. It will affect our ocean. The threat of the bloom will travel far from the collector points and downpipes and can suffocate marine life in the deep. The vibration from the riser and shakes from mining machines can scare away Whales, tunas and snappers. Transboundary disturbance from mining, blooms and noises can affect neighboring state’s tenement, which means Sponsoring States will be liable to cleaning up any environmental effect caused to that tenement. Ribbing apart of the Seafloor for Massive Sulphide can disturb the Carbon Sequestration and increase the risk of Methane leaks which is believed to be more potent than any that human has ever known. These threats does not justify Deep Sea Minerals as answers to our Blue Economy. It can potentially worsen current Climate Situations.

Mr. Havea added, “The Tongan Government has sponsored DeepGreen’s subsidiary TOML (Tonga Offshore Mineral Limited) to explore an area of the Pacific Ocean. Deep Green has built a pro-Environment profile as an advocator for the Blue Economy. It gave the world false message that the Deep will not be harmed, despite rising evidence to prove otherwise. It has now revised its preliminary prospectus filed with the US Securities Exchange Commission[1](SEC) to come clean that these claims are false.“

Tonga is not prepared to counter any impact cause by Deep Sea Mining. We don’t have the expertise, the resource and the funding to monitor work that are done by TMOL .  Tonga cannot monitor works that are currently undertaken by TMOL, in the AREA under our sponsorship.  “We have to take their word at face value. That the best examples of how unprepared Tonga is”, said Mr. Drew Havea “…we cannot even contested any of their statement because we can’t- we don’t have the skill, the expertise or the funds to say otherwise. We don’t even have a regulation yet, despite having passed the law in 2014”.

The prospectus lodged with the SEC (https://www.sec.gov/ix?doc=/Archives/edgar/data/0001798562/000121390021033645/fs42021a2_sustainable.htm) admits that there is uncertainty regarding the impact of mining deep sea nodules on biodiversity which could be more significant than expected. It concedes that mitigation strategies may not prevent biodiversity loss and species extinctions, that impacts on biodiversity and the ocean ecosystem may never be known, and that the impact of mining nodules on global biodiversity may not be less than land-based mining. (Page 50)

Mr Havea concludes, “We call on the Kingdom of Tonga to terminate its sponsorship of TOML and to support a moratorium on seabed mining on the grounds that science predicts that the damage from will be severe and long term.[2]


[1]DeepGreen Metals hopes to go public by combining with Sustainable Opportunities Acquisition Corp (SOAC) to produce an new entity named The Metals Company. SOAC is a SPAC – Special Purpose Acquisition Company. SPACs allows private firms to become publicly traded and listed on stock exchanges without the time, capital, and regulatory expenditures required in a traditional IPO. They are often referred to as ‘blank cheque’ companies.    

[2] For example: Chin, A and Hari, K, 2020, Predicting the impacts of mining of deep sea polymetallic nodules in the Pacific Ocean: A review of Scientific literature, Deep Sea Mining Campaign and MiningWatch Canada, http://www.deepseaminingoutofourdepth.org/impacts-of-mining-deep-sea-polymetallic-nodules-in-the-pacific/ and Smith, C. et al, Deep-Sea Misconceptions Cause Underestimation of Seabed-Mining Impacts. Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 2020; DOI: 10.1016/j.tree.2020.07.002  

Civil Society Forum of Tonga conducting Data Collection Workshop for Community and CSO groups

JOINT PRESS RELEASE

Workshop Day 1

(12/8/2021, Nuku’alofa) – The Government of Tonga and the European Union (EU) are joining their efforts to further promote good governance and to strengthen the policy dialogue capacity of civil society organizations (CSOs) in an effort to influence public policies and institutions that serve citizens’ interests. The Civil Society Forum of Tonga has been granted funds under the EU 11th European Development Fund to develop the capacity of CSO to engage effectively in policy dialogue and budget processes with Government and strengthening their research capacity and data collection within the focal areas of Gender, Disability, Youth and Energy”.

One of the core activities includes conducting three consecutive workshops on how to collect data.

The target audience include women’s groups & youth groups both at CSO and Community level.

The first workshop will start on Thursday, 12th of August, at the LDS Hall on Vaha’akolo Rd, Kolofo’ou. The CSFT sessions will focus on CSO data collection; concept, type and issues considered and research advocacy. There will also be a guest speaker from the government’s

Statistics Department on the ‘Importance of data to development of Tonga’. This project is expected to boost the importance of data collection at community level and CSO level with a focus on the key thematic areas of Gender, Youth, Disability and Energy. 

ENDS.

Media Contacts: Mrs. Mele’ana Moala’eua, Office of the Civil Society Forum of Tonga, Tel: +676 28 282, Email: moalaeua.meleana@gmail.com