The Pacific Islands need to protect their deep sea minerals, Tonga's Deputy Prime Minister Hon. Samiu Vaipulu told a Pacific- States Regional Workshop on Deep Sea Minerals Law and Contract Negotiations that opened at the Fa'onelua Convention Centre, in Nuku'alofa today on March 11.
Representatives of 15 Pacific States are attending the week-long workshop.
Mike Petterson the Director of , the Applied Geoscience and Technology Division of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community ( ), said today that the workshop will focus on the legislative and regulatory aspects of deep sea minerals.
He said the workshop is aimed at sharing information on a number of developments that is working on, including developing legislation for the extraction of deep sea minerals. "What we want achieve is largely capacity building, as like any other economic activity, Pacific states are a little bit compromised by multinational and well-resourced companies coming in," he said.
Pacific officials preparing for seabed mining negotiations
For the developing economies of the Pacific the prospect of untold mineral wealth being mined from under the sea is an enticing one. Already Papua New Guinea has approved the first deep sea mining project in the region, and prospecting surveys have been carried off the coasts of several other countries. Allied to that officials from around the Pacific will meet in Tonga next week to learn how to get the best deals from companies offering to mine within their exclusive economic zones.
Dr Mike Petterson, the Director of SOPAC, the Applied Geoscience and Technology Division of the Secretariat of the South Pacific Community says the aim is to make sure countries are well prepared to handle negotiations with the big mining companies.
Kingdom of Tonga to Host Regional Workshop on Law and Contract Negotiations for Deep Sea Minerals in the Pacific (March 11-15, 2013)
By Steve Menzies, Communications Adviser for the SPC-EU Deep Sea Minerals Project
From March 11-15th 2013, the Kingdom of Tonga is to host a regional workshop on “Law and Contract Negotiations for Deep Sea Minerals” in Nuku’alofa, on behalf of the SPC-EU Pacific Deep Sea Minerals Project.
The EU-funded Pacific Deep Sea Minerals Project managed by SOPAC, the Applied Geoscience & Technology Division of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, involves 15 Pacific Island Countries including: Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Timor Leste, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.
Hannah Lily, Legal Adviser for the Pacific Deep Sea Minerals Project, says a main objective of the Tonga workshop is to provide government officials with the knowledge, skills and confidence to negotiate effectively with well-resourced deep sea mining companies.
13th September 2012 - A deep-sea minerals training workshop to address issues associated with deep sea minerals and mining, was recently held in Nadi as part of a series of capacity building activities aimed to develop and enhance regional knowledge on geological, technological, biological and environmental aspects of deep-sea minerals.
The workshop was organised by the EU-funded, SPC Deep Sea Minerals (DSM) Project. Participants included Government officials, primarily from Ministries of 13 island countries associated with minerals, natural resources, environment and fisheries, as well as representatives from regional civil society groups.
PAC – FORUM: PACNEWS - Fri 31, Aug 2012 By Makereta Komai, PACNEWS Editor in Rarotonga
31 AUGUST 2012 RAROTONGA (PACNEWS) ---- The Director General of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Dr Jimmie Rogers has defended criticisms leveled at the regional legislative and regulatory framework for Deep Sea Mining (DSM) launched in Rarotonga at the margins of the Pacific Forum Leaders meeting Tuesday.
A coalition of regional civil society groups had earlier in the week called for a moratorium on deep sea mining activities in the Pacific until all risks and uncertainties are properly analysed. The civil society groups sought legal opinion from the U.S Office of the Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide to provide clarity on the appropriate level of action that must be undertaken by Pacific governments to meet their national obligations on the ‘precautionary’ principle in seabed mining.
Exploring for deep sea minerals and possible exploitation in future presents an emerging new economic opportunity for Pacific Island countries. But this opportunity must be balanced against protection of the ocean environment and preservation of rare and fragile ecosystems and ocean habitats.
Dr Russell Howorth of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) emphasised this point in his opening address at the Regional Training Workshop on Geological, Biological and Environmental Aspects of Deep Sea Minerals, saying that ‘the precautionary approach must prevail.’ Dr Howorth is Director of SPC’s Applied Geoscience and Technology (SOPAC) Division.
Rarotonga, Cook Islands Tuesday 29th August 2012: Cook Islands Deputy Prime Minister, the Honourable Tom Marsters today attended the release of the new Regional Legislative and Regulatory Framework for Deep Sea Minerals Exploration and Exploitation at the Pacific Island Leaders Forum currently underway here in Rarotonga, Cook Islands.
Marsters reflected that this Framework was called for by Pacific Leaders at their Forum in Cairns in 2009 as one of the key priorities of the Leaders Pacific Plan, during the period 2009 and 2012.
The Director of Fiji’s Mineral Resources Department, Mr. Malakai Finau told participants in a one day Fiji National Deep Sea Mineral Consultation Workshop held in Suva recently that “with deep sea mineral exploration being granted within the Fiji waters it is important to proceed with caution, to strike a balance between economic development and the protection of the environment.” The workshop is part of in-country stakeholder consultation process organized by SOPAC Division of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) through the European Union funded Deep Sea Mineral Project in fifteen Pacific ACP States.
With the international Seabed Authority (ISA) granting Nauru Ocean Resources Incorporation (NORI), a Nauru registered exploration company, the right to explore for deep seabed minerals in the International Seabed Area (known as “the Area”), the country becomes the first Pacific Island nation to have secured such a licence. With limited seabed mineral resources inside its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), the licence gives NORI the right to explore an area beneath international waters, at estimated depths of 5000 metres.
Secretary General of the International Seabed Authority, Mr Nii Allotey Odunton, said that the ISA had been “honoured and delighted,” to hold an International Workshop, in collaboration with the SPC/SOPAC Division of the Pacific Community and the Government of Fiji, on issues relating to the environmental impact assessment of deep seabed mining.
Mr Odunton’s comments, part of his address to the United Nations General Assembly, December 2011, referred to good progress made at the International Workshop in identifying the issues that will need to be addressed in future environmental impact assessments, “including the establishing of a framework so that all stakeholders are aware of what is expected of them.”
With fisheries as Kiribati’s main economic resource for a growing population, there is an imperative to find other income sources.
“This is where seabed mineral exploration and mining is important,” said Mr Tearinaki Tanielu, a Geologist, working as the Minerals Officer for the Kiribati Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources Development. “As a nation we are working toward adding more prosperity for people to make their lives better, but at the same time with little or no impact on our environment.”
Concerns about protecting the environment during exploration and mining for deep seabed minerals will not be addressed by a ‘one size fits all’ solution.
Dr Malcolm Clark, Principal Scientist (Deepwater Fisheries) at the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) Wellington, New Zealand, expressed this opinion during the international workshop on Environmental Management Needs for Exploration and Exploitation of Deep Seabed Minerals.
New laws will be required to address the challenges faced by regional countries in regulating the mining of deep seabed minerals according to Dr. Robin Warner of the Australia National Centre for Ocean Resources and Security (ANCORS). There is established deep seabed minerals law in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea that relates to the “vast expanse of oceans outside of national jurisdictions of the countries often called the “Area,” and the International Seabed Authority (ISA) is regarded as a mentor for implementing international standards for the protection of the marine environment.