by Gareth Hughes
Today is the last day for submissions on Chatham Rock Phosphate’s (CRP) marine consent application to mine the seabed in a protected area, in our most productive fishery. I just got my submission in which you can read here.
This is the second seabed mining application the Environmental Protection Authority has received recently, after Trans-Tasman Resource’s (TTR) ironsands mining application was declined. TTR’s application was rejected because of uncertainty around the environmental effects and CRP’s application contains even greater uncertainties; being considerably deeper, in a significant ecosystem, and in an area where 60% of our fishing catch comes from.
The project aims to mine the seabed about 400m down to get phosphate, used for farming application. The Chatham Rise is an incredible place where oceanic currents merge, supporting a thriving fish population. If you could dive to that depth you would see massive gouges where 10,000 years ago gigantic icebergs scoured the seabed, and incredible forests of slow-growing corals. In this area, fishers’ nets aren’t allowed within 100m of the seafloor, yet Simon Bridges has happily granted a mining permit which opens up the spectre of CRP literally vacuuming up the seabed, bowling ancient corals, and depositing the sediment back, potentially leading to muddy zones where corals cannot grow again. It’s outrageous that Bridges is content to undermine the protections supposedly provided by this Benthic Protected Area. This is yet another example of National’s disregard for our treasured places, along with permitting drilling and seismic testing in the Maui’s dolphin sanctuary, and logging and mining in our conservation estate.
I care about our threatened animals like the Maui’s and think protected areas should offer protection, and am calling for a moratorium on seabed mining, the next extractive industry battle ground, until the facts can be known. The Northern Territory in Australia has already declared a moratorium, and our billion dollar fishery is too important to risk. I’m taking a stand for the places and animals we love and I hope you can join me.