Gareth Hughes

Namibia is putting NZ to shame on marine protections

by Gareth Hughes

The Namibian Government has decided to impose a moratorium for 18 months on marine phosphate mining while our National Government makes a mockery of our marine protections by considering an application to mine for phosphate in a marine protected area.

Foreign owned company Chatham Rise Phosphate has applied to New Zealand’s Environmental Protection Authority for a marine consent to mine in a Benthic Protection Area − an area where bottom trawling and dredging are prohibited in order to protect the seafloor.

Chatham Rise Phosphate wants to vacuum up the seafloor in an area where fishing nets are not even allowed to scrape the seafloor. It’s nonsensical, yet the Government is allowing the application to be lodged as though it’s okay.

Today, Parliament will be considering the Marine Legislation Bill which is a bill that amends lots of different acts in order to implement the Government’s policy on maritime rules.

I have drafted an amendment to this Bill that would prohibit seabed mining in Benthic Protection Areas.

This amendment is consistent with a recommendation by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment who urged Parliament to “consider extending the prohibition on bottom trawling and dredging activities in the Benthic Protection Areas to all activities that would impact on the sea floor.”

If the seafloor is deemed to be worth protecting from bottom trawling and dredging then surely is worth protecting from seabed mining.

Namibia is showing up the National Government and revealing them to be the backward thinking, environmental vandals they are.

Published in Environment & Resource Management by Gareth Hughes on Tue, September 24th, 2013   

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