PIANGO commends Futuna’s decision disallowing seabed mining

Date: 24th September 2018

THE Pacific Islands Association of Non-Governmental (PIANGO) has praised the
decision of the traditional elders of the Pacific island of Futuna for disallowing any work
related to seabed mining in their waters.
PIANGO executive director Emele Duituturaga said they stood with other regional
NGOs and Pacific churches in the continued call for a ban on seabed mining.
“We have not seen income from terrestrial mining improve the lives of Pacific peoples
and we doubt very much this will be the case for seabed mining,” she said, adding that it
was still unclear what level of income governments will receive – let alone communities.
Ms. Duituturaga said the changing climate leading to warming of the ocean is already
having an impact on fisheries and ocean livelihoods in the region.
She said that evidence showed some local fishing practices and land uses are also
damaging the health of local food supplies on the coasts and inland and it was
becoming increasingly difficult to maintain the health and integrity of these sources,
especially after a disaster and resource extraction.
She said they often cannot afford to buy food and water from other sources and the
threat seabed mining posed on the surrounding environment would further compound
this.
Ms. Duituturaga said the poor are most affected when local supplies are disrupted.
“There is little consideration for what will happen and what kind of remedies are
available if planned exploration/ exploitation severely disrupts the environment. The
ocean is a global commons. It belongs to us all; and we are all affected by changes in
it.”
The traditional kingdoms on Futuna stated that their decision, expressed at a meeting in
Futuna with French delegates sent to explain the potential of mining rare earths, was
final and that any discussion about land matters had to be held with the customary
leadership and not with the assembly of Wallis and Futuna.
Ms. Duituturaga said it was pleasing to see traditional leaders make such a bold
decision in the interests of their people.
She said PIANGO urged Pacific island governments to be responsible on this issue and
not make hasty decisions.
“We are insistent that independent social and environmental studies are conducted,”
she said.
“We are concerned that biodiversity and life under the sea will be destroyed and these
minerals that have taken thousands of years to deposit will be extracted without
replenishment.
“There is no evidence to assure us that that seabed mining is not harmful and not
disruptive to livelihoods from the surrounding oceans.”