Minister Heremoana Maamaatuaiahutapu, Minister of Culture, Environment and Marine Resources from French Polynesia, and Ratu Epenisa Cakobau, Head of the Kubuna Confederacy, have both signed on to an official statement from Indigenous Voices from across the Pacific islands and Pacific rim countries in their call for a ban on deep seabed mining. This destructive industry is championed not only by mining companies but also by the International Seabed Authority, and it poses an imminent threat to the health of our oceans.
In speaking of French Polynesia’s recent vote for a temporary ban on seabed mining, Minister for Marine Resources, Heremoana Maamaatuaiahutapu stated that this should be an example to other Pacific neighbours.
"We need to convince our cousins of the Pacific to stop this craziness.” Maamaatuaiahutapu said.
As Ratu Epenisa Cakobau has also highlighted: “E da kila vinaka tu na bibi kei na yaga ni noda boto ni sauloa e na noda vanua ko Viti. Sa toso cake tiko ga na kena yavalati. Sa noqu kerekere me da maroroya na noda boto ni sauloa me baleti ira na noda kawa mai muri.”
"As indigenous people, we must take a stand on protecting our oceans. Deep sea mining threatens our cultural heritage and the health of our planet. We call on the world's governments and the International Seabed Authority to put an end to this dangerous industry and protect our oceans for generations to come."
The call to action by Indigenous Voices, launched earlier this month, has gained momentum and strength with the support of well over 200 signatories and powerful figures, also including President Tommy Remengesau from Palau; Nainoa Thompson, from the Polynesian Voyaging Society in Hawaii; Sebastián Yancovic Pakarati, Koro Nui o te Vaikava, from Rapa Nui; Jonathan Mesulam from Solwara Warriors in Papua New Guinea; Frank Brown, Hereditary Chief of the Heiltsuk first Nation in Canada; Violet Sage Walker, Chairwoman of the Northern Chumash Tribal Council, USA; Hinano Murphy from French Polynesia; and other influential leaders from around the world.
The full statement calls on the governments of the world and the International Seabed Authority to enact a ban on Deep Sea Mining effective immediately. Highlighted signatories and the full statement can be found here. Deep seabed mining has irreversible consequences for marine biodiversity and disrupts the ocean’s regulation of our global climate. The science is clear: this industry needs to be stopped. In 2022, 12 states opposed deep sea mining to prevent the issuance of mining licenses that could start as soon as July 2023. Several automobile manufacturers and other major companies and financial institutions have also committed to keep such minerals out of their operations.
Minister Maamaatuaiahutapu and Ratu Epenisa Cakobau's latest signatures underline the urgency and potency of the threat that deep sea mining poses to the health of the ocean and life that depends on it. They come after a protest march held on February 4th in Vancouver driven by NGOs, local student groups, and indigenous representatives from the most affected countries and territories in the Pacific.
As per the statement to be delivered to the International Seabed Authority in Jamaica during its March 2023 meetings and facilitated by the Blue Climate Initiative with support from its partner members of the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition:
“We refuse to allow any further harm to our sacred ocean, further damage to the intricate web of life that we are part of and depend on for our survival, and the selling out of the future of our children and life on our planet”.