Papa Terii Kaisara Pa ki Tonga Ariki at the seabed minerals consultation in Pukapuka. SBM/21021953
The recent IUCN call for a moratorium on seabed minerals activities (SBM) highlights the shared concerns of the Government and civil society organisations such as IUCN and Te Ipukarea Society:
• We agree that the protection of the marine
environment should be at the forefront in the development of the SBM sector.
• We support the application of the precautionary and
ecosystem approaches to SBM activities.
• We agree that a decision to move from exploration to
harvesting (or mining) phase should not be made until the environmental impacts
are well understood and can be sustainably managed.
• We agree that exploration research is fundamental to
understanding the marine environment, and any impacts potential harvesting
operations may have.
However, the IUCN moratorium also calls for a halt to
exploration licensing. This is difficult to understand given the importance of
exploration to understanding our Marae Moana and any potential impacts.
Gathering scientific data and information costs tens of millions of dollars to
conduct thorough baseline studies of the seafloor and water column. I have yet
to come across any alternative and adequately funded solutions by which to
undertake such exploratory research in our waters.
I must repeat this again as it is important:
Government is only allowing exploration to go ahead. We will be in the
exploration phase for the next few years. Government has not made any decision
on moving to the harvesting phase, because we simply do not have enough
information and data to make an informed decision.
The Government will continue to take a science-based
approach with transparent decision-making processes, and acting in the best
interests of our country and people.
I thank TIS and Ms Evans for their recent comments,
and welcome other members of the public to share their feedback directly with
the Seabed Minerals Authority.