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Pacific leaders urged to stop deep sea mining exploration

Alakihihifo Vailala

Greenpeace campaigner James Hita says mining is a risky gamble for the ocean.

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

A campaigner against deep sea mining is urging Pacific leaders to stop any further exploration of their seas before it’s too late.

James Hita who’s Greenpeace Aotearoa’s Deep Sea Mining campaigner told Pacific Mornings that it’s a risky gamble for the health of the ocean.

“We have a collective responsibility to look after Te Moana Nui A Kiwa”.

Hita was responding to comments by the Cook Islands' Seabed Minerals Commissioner, Alex Herman.

Herman gave assurances that licences issued to companies were solely for exploration and not harvesting minerals.

The Cook Islands has granted three exploration licenses with one company being partly owned by the Cook Islands Government.

Hita expresses his concerns that the Cook Islands might end up putting too much power into the hands of companies and refers to one company in particular, Cook Islands Cobalt.

Cook Islands Cobalt is part of Odyssey Marine Exploration which is suing the Mexican government after it declined to allow it to carry out further exploration of the seabed.

Hita is worried that the same thing will happen in the Cook Islands and hopes that companies will pack up and leave when told to and not worry about the profits lost.

Covid-19 caused major economic disruption in the Cook Islands as its biggest industry is tourism.

To avoid dependency on tourism, the Cook Islands is interested in exploring deep sea mining as a way of bringing economic benefits.

But Hita says there has to be another way.

“I think the whole Pacific region deserved prosperity. The Cook Islands in particular is a stunning place. It’s the only place outside of Aotearoa that I call home.”

He mentions the decline of reefs, water quality and fish stock in the Cook Islands over the past decade.

“Is now the right time to add another layer of really significant stress to the ocean. Science says most likely no, society says no, environmentalists say no.

“I truly want the best for all our nations of the Pacific,but the best is not through deep sea mining."

Watch the full interview with James Hita on Pacific Mornings:

Hero image: Greenpeace Aotearoa campaigner against deep sea mining James Hita. Photo / Greenpeace

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