Report finds regional deep sea mining laws lacking
The Pacific Community's [SPC] geoscience division has fended off criticism of the organisation's framework for seabed mining legislation, saying the document is just a starting point.
The Pacific Community's [SPC] geoscience division has fended off criticism of its proposed framework for seabed mining, saying the draft is just a starting point.
An independent assessment says the document lacked internationally recognised indigenous and environmental safeguards.
The framework on sea bed mineral exploration and exploitation is part of a larger EU funded initiative looking at different aspects of the proposal to mine the seafloor.
Koroi Hawkins with this report.
According to Mike Petersen the director of the Pacific Community's geoscience division, the proposed legal framework on sea bed exploration and exploitation first published in 2012 was designed as a starting point and not a benchmark document.
MIKE PETERSEN: "It was actually published in 2012 some four years ago and we are reviewing it, it is under review at the present time and this is nothing to do with this so called independent review and we will produce a revised version at the end of this year."
But one of the independent reviewers of the document Julian Augon from Blue Ocean Law says as the leading regional technical body for the Pacific the SPC's framework has huge influence in the region and should be stronger than it currently is.
JULIAN AUGON: "We found that their were some conspicuous omissions more or less related to international human and indigenous rights legal norms and international environmental legal norms. Including free prior and informed consent and on the second hand the precautionary principle as well as the principle to avoid transboundary harm."
Mike Petersen says the criticisms are too harsh.
MIKE PETERSEN: "For a 57 page document personally I think we do cover some of the areas which the criticism is alleging that we don't cover. We probably can improve of course we can but I think it is um unfair to say that we haven't at least given this significant treatment in the document itself."
Maureen Penjueli another member of the indepent review and coordinator of the Pacific Network on Globalisation says this discussion is important because the final version of SPC's legal frame work will provide much needed guidance to the region.
MAUREEN PENJUELI: "For all the Pacific Island countries that are looking to either set up their legislations or policies this particular report is extremely timely. I think the gaps that it is analysed and found that exists in the SPC framework they need to ensure that it is not replicated at the national level."
A message particularly relevant for Papua New Guinea whose Bismarck sea come 2018 may play host to the worlds first seabed mine. But equally so for other countries in region including Tonga, Cook Islands and Fiji who are also very interested in exploiting the minerals on their respective sea-floors in the near future.
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