Seafood Industry Strongly Opposed to CRP Mining Application for Chatham Rise
The seafood industry strongly opposes Chatham Rock Phosphate’s application to mine the Chatham Rise, saying it will have “significant and irreversible adverse effects on the marine environment.”
In its submission to the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) the Deepwater Group says the environmental impacts of mining will include massive disruption to the seafloor and the destruction of benthic fauna, including protected corals.
“The Chatham Rise is home to New Zealand’s most productive and abundant deepwater fisheries and is recognised as a ‘hotspot’ habitat for juvenile fish, including hoki, ling, silver warehou and white warehou,” says George Clement, Chief Executive of the Deepwater Group.
“Mining threatens to destroy the very ecosystem that supports these valuable fisheries and has the potential to harm fisheries well beyond the Chatham Rise.”
“Almost all of our juvenile hoki live on the Chatham Rise. When they mature, they move on to other feeding and breeding grounds around New Zealand. If the nursery environment for these young fish is damaged by mining, there will be fewer hoki and catches will be reduced across the entire New Zealand zone,” George Clement says.
The submission outlines the downstream effects of mining, including changes to water quality as a result of the release of trace metals and other contaminants from the large scale strip mining.
“These factors, combined with widespread habitat destruction, will put the health and quality of our sustainable fisheries at risk.”
Mr Clement says few New Zealanders are aware of just how vast the area under claim for mining is – 10,192 square kilometres.
“That’s equivalent to all of the land area between Whangarei and Thames, or all of the North Island south of Foxton. Most of this sea area has never been impacted by human activities.”
“People in Auckland and Wellington wouldn’t want strip mining in the space where they live, and we don’t want it in the nation’s CBD for seafood production,” he says.
“New Zealand is internationally recognised as being a leading producer of sustainable, high quality seafood. Why would we put all of this at risk?”
“The miners claim that New Zealand will benefit by $900 million over the next 15 years. This is a one-off gain and one that will leave the seabed turned upside down. During this period, seafood from the Chatham Rise will earn New Zealand more than $2,500 million, and this revenue continues to be earned and doesn’t just stop after 15 years.”
The seabed ecosystem on the central Chatham Rise has been protected as a Benthic Protected Area (BPA) since 2007 to preserve the unspoilt natural habitats and biodiversity by making it illegal to bottom trawl or dredge the area.
Mr Clement says most of this sea bottom will be dug up during the phosphate mining, with all excavated sea life destroyed and the tailings dispersed over wide areas smothering remaining corals and sponges.
Mr Clement says these large protected areas have the additional benefit of validating the sustainable ecosystems upon which New Zealand’s deepwater fisheries are based. He says hoki, hake and ling from the Chatham Rise all meet the international Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) Certification standards, the highest environmental standard for seafood production in the world.
“Mining this area is fundamentally incompatible with the protection provided through the BPA and the significant benefits delivered in having these marine protected areas.”
“The seafood industry has sustainably fished this area for more than 40 years; the ecosystems remain healthy and productive, and seafood continues to deliver significant economic benefits to New Zealand over this time and will into the future,” he says.
“We consider the economic benefits of the mining proposal, if any, are uncertain and are short term, compared with the demonstrated and ongoing stream of economic benefits from fishing.”
“While we will still be here in 150 years, the miners will be gone in 15, leaving us with all of their mess,” says Mr Clement.
Other areas of concern highlighted in the Deepwater Group’s submission include:
• A lack of basic information from CRP about the proposed mining approach and a high level of uncertainty around the potential impacts on the fisheries and habitat.
• That it is not an efficient use or development of natural resources
• That it will interfere with the successful management regimes, including the Quota Management System (QMS) and the protection of biodiversity through the BPA network
• That it does not include any conditions that are able to adequately reduce the level of uncertainty, or avoid, remedy or mitigate, the adverse effects of the proposal.
For the full submission link :