Pacific Blue Line maintain their strong position for a global ban on deep sea mining. “The move to ban Deep Sea Mining in the Pacific is a decision not only to be considered by the Pacific Islands States but globally.”
The Pacific Blue Line (PBL) regional founding members, Pacific regional organisations, national CSOs, environmental organisations, activists. scientists and academics have echoed resounding rejection to maintain their strong position for a global ban on deep sea mining (DSM).
At the end of three-day strategy meeting at the Pearl Resort in Pacific Harbour, Fiji, 30 strong passionate DSM advocates from Vanuatu, Marshall Islands, Samoa, Niue, Tuvalu, Papua New Guinea, Cook Islands, Kiribati, West Papua, Tonga, Solomon Islands, French Polynesia Maohi Nui, and Fiji including regional climate activists gathered face-to-face to take stock of the status of DSM and share reflections and lessons learnt on mobilising towards a ban on DSM.
As the momentum towards a global ban on DSM continues from the PBL Collective-the Pacific Network on Globalisation (PANG), Pacific Conference of Churches (PCC), Pacific Islands Association of NGOS (PIANGO), World Wide Fund for Nature Pacific (WWF), and the Development Alternatives with Women for a new era (DAWN)- the three-day meeting was an opportunity for allies and partners to take a moment to reflect on its progress to strengthen its approach, to learn from other successes of the past on how to achieve a ban and plan ahead for interventions to ensure they achieve their goal.
PIANGO Executive Director, Emeline Ilolahia, in her opening address, said DSM is often discussed by people that are not affected by the impact of deep-sea mining, who are not living in the communities to be faced with the impact.
“The Ocean connects us, it is our common heritage, and we have a role here today to make sure the voices of our people are heard,” Ilolahia said.
“This work is far beyond our organisational work, but in the 3 days, we explored our position, we listened to the stories particularly when we don’t have resources and manpower to fight this huge interest from outside who want to come and explore our oceans without us, without our consent and our knowledge,” she added.
She challenged DSM advocates to challenge the status quo, open to uncomfortable discussions, be open and frank because they have real data, traditional knowledge which will pave the way forward.
“We have our own story, in our own context, that is your greatest assets, but we will need to transform these data into your national case studies,” said Maureen Penjueli PANG Coordinator.
Penjueli said, “we have gone beyond our expected outcomes simply because of your generosity, because you are doing so many things and none of us here work on just DSM alone. Your generosity, stories and sharing will force a lot of information to prepare us with the right tool needed for this campaign,” Penjueli added.
Pacific Blue Line, she said will work towards organising the movement better with a little cohesively because the messages from the DSM campaigners are clear that affirms PBL’s work moving forward.
Here are what the DSM campaigners are saying.
Pelenatita Kara- Civil Society Forum of Tonga, Deep Sea Mining National Coordinator.
“Our biggest fear now is the liability impact DSM will pose should the International Seabed Authority (ISA) begin with the exploitation next year. Our push for a moratorium has received a unanimous shift for a total ban from the church, outer islands and communities. However, we don’t have a support of legal framework and in Tonga the State makes the final decision without any consultations. We have been fighting since 2012 and we will continue to fight for what’s right and for the safety of our people.”
Michel Villar – Advisor for the French Polynesia’s pro-independence leader Oscar Temaru
“We are in favour of a ban. Although we have a slightly different approach due to the UN Resolutions which gives the sole sovereignty of natural and maritime resources to the Polynesia people which stipulate that if there’s a moratorium it is not French to decide but the Polynesia. I am here to deliver some political message detailing where stand about Deep Sea Mining. This issue cannot be solved in a little square because it’s linked to human right, climate change and sovereignty. The fight is similar when we talk about decolonisation and full sovereignty. This is the message I am going to take back home.”
Richard Gokrun- Tuvalu Action Climate Network
“The move to ban Deep Sea Mining in the Pacific is a decision not only to be considered by the Pacific Islands States but globally. In Tuvalu, we are already in the frontline of climate change impact that we face on a daily basis. We are heavily depending on the oceans for our daily nutrients, if DSM comes into actions around the Pacific that we create more impact on our marine ecosystem and as low-lying atoll nation, the impact is going to be huge. To the leaders, this is not a topic where you need time before a decision to be made. The time to act is here, it’s now.”
Aiono Sapa Saifaleupolu of O le Siosiomaga Society, Inc, Samoa
“Our position to ban deep sea mining is very clear. It’s destructive, our ocean is already faced multiple destruction from pollution and our social security in terms of food and monetary support system. We don’t want to see any further destructions of our marine resource. The ocean, to us is a lifeline to the indigenous people of Samoa and the Pacific. A concerted effort is needed by the Pacific leaders for a total ban on Deep Sea Mining. We know this is not going to take place in a short time, but we need be strategic and wise in our campaign from the grassroots to the Political level.”
Pelenise Alofa-National Coordinator of the Kiribati Climate Action Network, Kiribati
“Our people have come a long way. We have existing traditional systems in existence for years and we need to invest in those systems to strengthen the resilience of our people and our communities. The people of Kiribati have learned to adapt, we cannot leave our land now. No one wants to run away even when the situation is bad. We have been fighting and we will continue and right now, our collective voices are needed to speak to the heart of leaders that any mining on the seabed means destructions to the people and their livelihood.”
Jonathan Mesulam- Founder and Coordinator of the West Coast Development Foundation-PNG
“The people of PNG have come a long way; we cannot stop now. Our stance is clear; we don’t want Deep Sea Mining. Already we are faced with multiple crisis through the impact of Climate Change. But the impact of Deep-Sea Mining is unknown yet destructive. We have to build trusts within our team to push forward. A lot of lives will be affected, and the leaders should consider our plight above everything else. International bodies need to support communities, listen to our stories, walk in our shoes. Sustainability is important and we must put people before profit.
This story was originally published at PIANGO on 05 December 2022, reposted via PACNEWS.