NZ seafood industry continues fight against deep-sea mine
The New Zealand seafood industry on Monday welcomed the Environmental Protection Authority’s (EPA) request for more information regarding Chatham Rock Phosphate’s (CRP) application to mine the Chatham Rise area, a key fishing ground for New Zealand.
“We’re very pleased that the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has asked CRP for a lot more information on the adverse environmental effects of their proposal to mine large areas on the Chatham Rise. We also seek answers to these questions,” said George Clement, Deepwater Group CEO. “This lack of environmental information raises serious alarm bells on the merits of this venture.”
According to Clement, the EPA has asked CRP to include additional information on the effects of mining on water quality, marine food webs, benthic fauna, fish spawning, sediment chemistry, habitats, seabirds, noise, ocean currents, as well as on the cumulative effects of heavy metals in our soils and agricultural products when this rock phosphate is used to fertilize New Zealand farms.
The EPA has also asked CRP questions on the commercial viability, the adverse effects on commercial fishing and the benefits to New Zealand from this proposed venture.
Consequent to the EPA’s request for additional information, CRP has requested a delay in the EPA’s proceedings to allow them time to complete their application.
“We also note that CRP has announced today that it has reduced the proposed mining area by almost half,” said Clement.
“It is clear that CRP now recognizes that its initial application was ill-prepared and that they went too far in asking for 10,192 km2, a huge area equivalent in size to the entire North Island south of Foxton.
“Until we can be assured that the environmental damage from mining does not impact on New Zealand’s important fishing grounds on the Chatham Rise, we remain solidly opposed to CRP’s application.”
Deepwater fishing interests have opposed this large scale strip-mining venture on the Chatham Rise because of concerns that the widespread habitat destruction will put the health and quality of New Zealand’s sustainable fisheries at risk, and because the heavy metals that would be released into the agricultural food chain, including uranium, will pose adverse trade and health risks.