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Article

Fiji: Prime Minister calls for 10-year moratorium on seabed mining to allow proper scientific research

"Fiji calls for sea-bed mining moratorium as Nautilus restructures", 13 August 2019

Fiji Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has again called for a 10-year moratorium on sea-bed mining, at a time that many Pacific island nations are preparing for new frontiers of resource exploitation in the marine environment.

...Prime Minister Bainimarama called on fellow Forum island states to “support a 10-year moratorium on seabed mining from 2020 to 2030, which would allow for a decade of proper scientific research of our economic zones and territorial waters.”

There is growing pressure from French, Canadian and US corporations to advance the deep-sea mining (DSM) agenda, as well as interest from the China Ocean Mineral Resources Research and Development Association. Just as energy corporations are looking towards deep-sea oil and gas reserves, companies are developing technology to exploit mineral ore deposits found on the ocean floor, including cobalt crusts, seafloor massive sulphides and ferromanganese nodules.

...A report from the Guam-based Blue Ocean Law argues: “There is a general failure to incorporate sufficient environmental protections, as well as the norm of free, prior, and informed consent for indigenous peoples, who are most likely to be impacted by DSM. In the 21st century, and under well-established norms of international law, these omissions represent serious violations of international legal obligations.”

...Early initiatives to begin sea-bed mining in the Pacific have not come to fruition. This week’s set-back to a major project in Papua New Guinea provides a salutary warning about the complexity and potential costs of DSM.

...Nautilus filed for court protection from its creditors...and the Canadian-based company was later delisted from the Toronto Stock Exchange....

...The looming collapse of the Solwara seabed mining initiative has been welcomed by civil society groups in Papua New Guinea, which have been campaigning against potential adverse impacts on ocean ecology.