The Catholic Agency for Justice, Peace and Development

Caritas calls for halt to deep sea mining

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Event date: 
20 Jul 2017

Speaking in New York at an event associated with a United Nations High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development Goals, Director of Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand, Julianne Hickey, called for an immediate halt to all deep-sea mining, including exploratory testing. 

Mrs Hickey expressed deep concerns about the long-term impact on the oceans and marine life arising from experimental Deep Sea Mining, pointing out that it would undermine the ability to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 14.

“Such mining is far from being an established practice around the world. The technology involved is in its infancy and it is not credible to talk about so-called ‘best-practice’ regulatory regimes in the Oceania region. The fact is that many of the countries in which multinational mining corporations are seeking licenses do not have established regulatory scrutiny of such activities,” said Mrs Hickey.

“A factor that exacerbates the risks is the huge reliance of communities on the oceans. For example, our community partners in Kiribati and Solomon Islands rely on the oceans and healthy marine ecosystems for their very livelihoods." 

But there was some good news too. Caritas welcomed two specific initiatives towards better care of the oceans and marine resources. In particular, Mrs Hickey highlighted the development of special Marine Protection Areas in Tonga.

“The development of Marine Protection Areas at Felemea in the Ha’apai Islands of Tonga signals a very welcome approach to sustainable use practices in the region.”

“We also acknowledge and welcome the move by the New Zealand government to ban plastic microbeads which have been shown to be harmful to waterways, fish and shellfish,” said Mrs Hickey.

The specific goal on which Mrs Hickey presented was Goal 14: conserving and sustainably using the oceans, seas and marine resources – with regard to the Oceania region, and she was representing Caritas Oceania in order to ensure that the voices of Pacific peoples are heard on the world stage.

Caritas works closely with partner organisations around the Pacific region – including Samoa, Kiribati, Fiji, Tonga, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea.

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Tutu ana te puehu - Stirring up the dust