In a dramatic shift at the United Nations oceans conference in Lisbon this week, a series of Pacific Governments have formed an alliance to oppose deep sea mining in international waters but Greenpeace says the continued silence from the New Zealand Government on the issue is deafening.

To standing ovations, a series of Pacific nations including Fiji and Samoa joined an alliance opposing deep sea mining announced by Palau on Monday. Adding to the momentum, the following day, Tuvalu, Tonga, and Guam announced their support for a halt to deep sea mining and France is now also calling for a legal and robust framework to ban deep sea mining in the high seas. But to date, the New Zealand Government has not formed a position on the issue.

Greenpeace Aotearoa’s James Hita says: “New Zealand risks standing by while deep wounds are inflicted on its Pacific neighbours if it continues to stay silent on deep sea mining.

“This move by ruthless corporations to begin deep sea mining in the Pacific is the latest example of colonisation in a region that has already suffered so much from nuclear testing, overfishing and resource extraction by the developed world,” says Hita.

“It’s a sad irony that when French nuclear testing threatened the Pacific, Norman Kirk’s Labour government sent a frigate in protest, but now, when corporate seabed mining threatens the Pacific, Jacinda Ardern’s Labour government does nothing while Macron’s French government speaks out to protect the Pacific.

“New Zealand has a golden opportunity right now to show real solidarity and leadership in the Pacific and we call on New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Minister of Foreign Affairs Nanaia Mahuta and Minister of Oceans & Fisheries David Parker to seize the day and make us proud.

“To maintain respect in the Pacific, the Ardern Government needs to start standing up for the things that matter to the Pacific. Palau, Vanuatu, Tuvalu, Fiji, Tonga, and Samoa are all calling for a moratorium on seabed mining but so far the New Zealand Government is sitting on its hands,” says Hita.

Deep sea mining is a destructive and untested industry where minerals are sucked up from the ocean floor and waste materials pumped back into the ocean leaving a sediment plume that smothers marine life, threatening vulnerable ecosystems, fisheries and people’s way of life.

Scientists say that disruptions to the ocean floor may also reduce the ocean’s ability to sequester carbon, adding to the climate crisis.

Without action from Governments to stop it, mining of the deep seas in the Pacific could begin as early as mid 2023.

Greenpeace Aotearoa launched a petition in June calling on the New Zealand government and Minister of Foreign Affairs Nanaia Mahuta to support a ban on deep sea mining in the Pacific and around the world and already over 9,000 people have signed.

PETITION: Stop deep sea mining

It’s time for New Zealand to take a stand. Join our call on the New Zealand government to back a global moratorium on seabed mining.

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