A members bill from Te Pāti Māori Co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer has been drawn from the ballot at Parliament today proposing legislation that would ban seabed mining in Aotearoa – a move Greenpeace is heralding as an opportunity to stop a highly destructive industry before it begins.
If passed, the bill would mean a huge step forward in ocean conservation by introducing laws that would ban seabed mining consents within Aotearoa/New Zealand waters.
Greenpeace seabed mining campaigner James Hita says: “Seabed mining risks damage to sensitive, diverse and precious ecosystems. If allowed to go ahead, this destructive industry would put marine life in harm’s way including endangered species of whales and dolphins. It would also impact the gathering of kaimoana and kaitiakitanga of tangata whenua.
“We all rely on the health of the ocean and Greenpeace alongside other civil society groups have consistently called on the Labour Government to step in and ban seabed mining in Aotearoa rather than leaving it up to iwi and volunteer organisations to protect the ocean that connects and nourishes us. This members’ bill from Te Pāti Māori is laying down the challenge to the Labour-led Government to choose which side of history they want to be on.”
Kiwis Against Seabed Mining (KASM), a community organisation that has partnered with Greenpeace throughout the three seabed mining applications and subsequent court cases in Aotearoa, also heralded the opportunity created by the members bill.
“There’s an enormous public appetite to protect the oceans, and tens of thousands of Kiwis have either submitted against the company bids to mine the seabed – or signed our petitions calling on Prime Minister Ardern to ban this destructive industry. Now is the time for Aotearoa to take a lead,” said KASM chair Cindy Baxter
“We’ve had more experience in examining this fledgling industry than any other country on the planet, and it’s been found wanting. A ban on seabed mining would send a message to the world that we are serious about ocean protection,” she said.
Says Hita: “The New Zealand Government has a once in a lifetime opportunity to stop this dangerous industry before it starts. Banning seabed mining in Aotearoa would protect the ocean and set a strong precedent to support the efforts of our Pacific neighbours who are opposing deep sea mining in the Pacific and around the world.
“The public are already onside with this. Earlier this year, alongside our allies, we delivered a 35,000 strong petition to parliament calling for an end to seabed mining. This members’ bill from Debbie Ngarewa-Packer is an opportunity for the Government to take action to ban seabed mining in Aotearoa immediately.”
The proposed bill would mean mining companies could no longer apply for seabed mining exploration rights under the Crown Minerals Act. It also proposes withdrawing all existing seabed mining consents and exploration rights.
Being drawn from the ballot means that the bill will be read in Parliament and debated. To pass into law it would need to pass second and third readings.
The ballot draw comes as Greenpeace and KASM are today serving papers to the mining company Trans Tasman Resources (TTR) to recover court costs accrued from successfully challenging its consent to mine off the coast of Taranaki. Greenpeace and KASM – along with and other civil society organisations, mana whenua and the fishing industry – have been opposing TTR through its attempts to obtain seabed mining consents.