Fiji backs 10-year ban on seabed mining

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Fiji backs 10-year ban on seabed mining

FIJI has lent its support to the 10-year moratorium on seabed mining to allow for a decade of proper scientific research of economic zones and territorial waters.

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama confirmed Fiji’s stand while commenting on the presentation by civil society organisations during the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Meeting on Wednesday.

“I reiterate my call to members during the opening of our Climate Change Sautalaga to step up and support this ambitious venture,” Mr Bainimarama said.

Presenting on behalf of the CSOs, Teina Mackenzie, the president of the Te Ipukarea Society — the longest serving NGO in the Cook Islands — requested Pacific leaders to support a 10-year moratorium on seabed mining to prioritise the health of communities and recognise values beyond economic gain.

The Pacific CSOs encouraged forum leaders to endorse a 10-year moratorium within the United Nations Decade of Oceans Science for Sustainable Development (2021–2030), to allow for the generation of scientific data and information to better inform the governance and conservation of the ocean.

“Recommending a moratorium, in order to support the research that will be taking place as part of the Decade of Ocean Science, will allow leaders to be well-informed on how to progress with the DSM (deep sea mining) industry — if they choose to do so,” she said.

“This is truly utilising a precautionary approach. As well, the resourcing for scientific research will come from a more independent source as opposed to mining companies who have vested interests in progressing their industry.”

Another opportunity to be gained by supporting a moratorium, she said, was to ensure a strong focus on supporting, involving and empowering Pacific youths in the development agenda.

“A moratorium will also support the reduction of rapid acceleration of climate change, protect coastal and deep-water fisheries from the negative impacts to the seabed and allow for the necessary science to be obtained.”

When asked about Fiji’s stand on the moratorium, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said: “Of course there’ll be a dialogue within this forum around oceans policy, generally particularly issues around borders, sovereign boundaries.”

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