Deep sea mining is ocean exploitation: Samoan activist

Pacific island states including Samoa cannot protect the ocean if they are considering policies such as deep sea mining which will put livelihoods at risk and lead to exploitation.

That is the view of the Greenpeace Head of the Pacific, Auimatagi Joe Moeono-Kolio, who said they will continue to have issues with the latest venture of the extractive industry, due to its impact on the ocean and the marine ecosystem.

Auimatagi said Greenpeace has its concerns on the introduction of deep sea mining into the region due to the record of the extractive industry and the damage that the “Blue Pacific” could sustain over the years.

“We cannot protect the ocean if we continue to find new ways to exploit it,” he said in an emailed response to the Samoa Observer.

“Extractive industries have done so much damage to our Blue Pacific and it is pure foolishness to repeat the same old mistakes in the hope of a different outcome.

“The ocean is the lifeline of the Pacific and deep sea mining puts that at risk.”

The practice of foreign companies coming into the region “promising riches to these nations” was then put under scrutiny with Auimatagi saying island communities were then left to deal with the damage.

“Too often in the Pacific region we have seen large corporations come in promising riches to these nations but instead they are left with a damaged environment and have to live with the impacts of that,” he said.

“Plundering the seafloor risks severe and irreversible damage to marine life and biodiversity, but it could also disturb the carbon cycle. 

“We should not be interfering with the ocean’s ability to absorb carbon and this is just another reason why deep sea mining shouldn’t happen.”

French Polynesian academic Dr Keitapu Maamaatuaiahutapu expressed similar sentiments, saying the benefits of deep sea mining were short-term for long-term damage to the environment.

“Economic benefit – short term gain on deep sea mining – in the meantime it is wiser not to go deep sea mining because we have lived here for thousands of years…we are becoming the central part of the economy but we are not  part of the benefit,” he said.

“Now more than ever we need to connect and cooperate with the rest of the world, it is important that the indigenous people connect and address these global issues so corporations do not have a profit in.

“Elected members of the parliament are also owned by transnational corporations.”

Attempts by Papua New Guinea to commission the world's first deep sea mining project by 2020 called Solwara 1 did not eventuate with the Canadian-registered firm Nautilus Minerals Inc. going into administration. The demise of the company led to a chorus of calls for a moratorium on deep sea mining in the Pacific.

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