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Seabed Mining In PNG Could Affect Tuna Resource Papua New Guinea, September 4, 12

The board and management of PNG Eco Forestry Forum have urged the Government to ban the deep sea mining project spearheaded by Nautilus Minerals.

Executive Director of the forum Thomas Paka, through a statement, says this undersea project is being rushed and is not in the best interest of the people.

“There are already ongoing mine exploration projects on land which the forum thinks is sufficient and the country should not venture into a project that is not properly researched and poses a lot of uncertainties.”

Paka highlighted that PNG would be used as a guinea pig for this project and that impacts of seabed mining could not be accurately predicted.

He also said there was not enough research to understand the seabed ecology, and added that there were no laws and or policies to manage the activities of deep sea mining in PNG.

He said from these issues highlighted by the forum and all concerned, the forum urged the Government to reconsider this rushed decision.

“The biggest question again asked by the forum and all concerned is; ‘What are the risks?’ As yet there is no clear answer from the Government or others to this crucial question. From experience, mineral exploitation on land has brought a lot of negative impacts both environmentally and socially.”

Paka went on to say that the Government at the moment was not able to monitor and mitigate all the environmental and social impacts of mines in this country.

“It will definitely not have the funds nor the capacity to regulate and monitor this project properly which is a very grave concern because this Government will definitely not be able to mitigate if there are negative impacts and the livelihood of the coastal population will be affected,” said Paka.

Therefore, he said, the forum believed that deep sea mining was not in the best interest of the people and asked the Government to stop it.

Meanwhile, Sea bed mining in the proposed area will destroy the very habitats by which small organisms, some known and many still unknown, depend upon.

These organisms whether sedentary or free swimming will have less to depend on for their survival when their habitats are destroyed.

This was stated by Narakobi Lawyers in a written statement regarding seabed mining in Papua New Guinea.

It said the chain effect from the mine could easily affect bigger organisms or fish that depend on the smaller organisms found around the surface of the sulfide vents.

In fact, just around the selected area exists what is called the Magado Square or Okuk Square.

This area is well known as a breeding ground for tuna fish and had been a protected area for a long time.

“Could this ground be dependent on the origin of food chain from hydro thermal chimneys? Abundance of fishery could be dependent on life on the chimney?, questioned the statement.

The statement indicated that environmental damage of some magnitude would occur and it was sufficient to prevent mining of the Bismark Archipelagic sea floor.

Furthermore, it said the scientific data, be it baseline or other, must be available to all stakeholders and the public to access with other best scientific advice before and not after mining.

“Following which a properly constituted Board or Council be mandated under the law to make a decision, advisory to make decisions on political expediency, economic or environmental reasons.

“It has the duty as Government for the people to pay attention to all those who might be affected,” it said.

The paper stated that there was already one call from a leading university of the world that states that “Underwater mining will decimate deep water organisms” and surely this is enough to be cautious.

“PNG must not repeat mistakes in Ok Tedi and others that warnings by most reputable international entities were ignored, resulting in massive environmental damage and degradation of environment which will last for many years to come,” the statement reported.