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PIF nations ready for battle over deep sea mining

The Federates States of Micronesia has become the latest Pacific nation to announce their intent to prohibit deep sea mining.

FSM president David Panuelo said that they will join the Alliance of Countries for a Deep-Sea Mining Moratorium.

Mr Panuelo intends to solicit the support of other members of the Pacific Islands Forum to join in as well.

The call is in stark contrast to some other Pacific nations including FSM’s Micronesian neighbour Nauru, whose spokesperson Peter Jacob said in an opinion piece penned exclusively for The Pacific Advocate last year, that deep sea mining was “more environmentally, socially and economically responsible”.

Citing the economic benefits, Jacob slammed “ the unjustified claims levied by NGOs at Small Island Developing States like mine”.

“Nauru……is simply taking advantage of the rights conferred upon it under international law and I and many others here in Nauru are immensely proud that we have been a leader in the deep-sea minerals industry from the start.”

The Federates States of Micronesia has become the latest Pacific nation to announce their intent to prohibit deep sea mining. Picture: Shutterstock

Nauru has also made an exploitation application to the International Seabed Authority for polymetallic nodules on its seabed.

This puts Nauru on a warpath with FSM and other regional nations that will be trying to solicit other Pacific island countries to pledge to support and implement a moratorium on deep seabed mining, issuing of new exploitation and new exploration contracts, and the adoption of seabed mining regulations for exploitation, until rigorous and transparent impact assessments have been conducted.

Such assessments would ensure the environmental, social, cultural, and economic risks of deep seabed mining are comprehensively understood, including how biodiversity loss and species extinction can be prevented.

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FSM is of the view that deep seabed mining should not occur until policies to ensure the responsible production and use of metals, such as the reduction of demand for primary metals, a transformation to a resource-efficient circular economy, and responsible terrestrial mining practices, have been developed and implemented.

President of the Federated States of Micronesia David Panuelo. The Federates States of Micronesia has become the latest Pacific nation to announce their intent to prohibit deep sea mining. Picture: Fijian Government

It also does not support deep seabed mining until public consultation mechanisms have been incorporated into all decision-making processes.

“Deep-sea mining plausibly offers a genuine pathway for countries (and corporations) to achieve significant wealth while providing essential resources for global development and civilizational enrichment,” Mr Panuelo said in a statement.

“It is equally plausible that deep-sea mining offers a genuine pathway to the systemic collapse of our oceanic ecosystems, resulting in mass starvation and mass environmental destruction, thereby pronouncing the impacts of anthropogenic climate change and the instillation of abject economic suffering to peoples and communities who do not benefit from mining activities but feel their direct impacts.”

The Federates States of Micronesia has become the latest Pacific nation to announce their intent to prohibit deep sea mining. Picture Flickr

“What I relay as plausible is not extreme or even very imaginative. Sea-based oil drilling seemed a good enough idea to those seeking wealth that they did it in the Gulf of Mexico, which never positively impacted the Louisiana fishermen who were not consulted on the work and had no agency in the decision to do it. But they certainly felt the impacts when the Deepwater Horizon spill occurred in 2010.”

FSM has committed to protecting a minimum of 30 per cent of its ocean territory, 50 per cent of coastal marine territory, and 50 per cent of terrestrial territory by 2030.

The Alliance of Countries for a Deep-Sea Mining Moratorium was originally launched by the Republic of Palau on the margins of the 2nd United Nations Ocean Conference, in partnership with the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition and the World Wildlife Fund, and has already been joined by the Independent State of Samoa and the Republic of Fiji.

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