Claims Australian mining will destroy Namibian fishing
You can listen to Riaan Erksteen from Namibian environment group, Swakopmund Matters on ABC Radio’s PM show, Wednesday 27 June 2012.
Riaan talks about how Australian miners UCL and Minemakers seabed proposals will destroy the marine environment, and with it the country’s vital fishing industry.
Below is a recent article by Swakopmund Matters in Namib Independent
Two Australian companies to dig up Namibia’s ocean
The new wave of diggers – now targeting the oceans.
REPRINTED FROM NAMIB INDEPENDENT of 29 JUNE 2012
Does not matter whether they are mining, dredging or just digging their Sandpiper project for marine phosphate will damage Namibia’s marine life beyond repair.
Regardless of what NMP (Namibia Marine Phosphate) and Mr. Wellbeloved (Sandpiper project manager) may say a high level of uncertainty remains about the impacts of marine mining (or “dredging”, if you want to use their euphemism) and the risks it poses to the marine environment. These uncertainties arise due to the lack of knowledge and experience about the technologies and processes under-pinning the mining system, the biodiversity and ecosystems of the deep ocean. What is certain is that many impacts will be associated with each step of the mining process.
Due to the high level of uncertainty associated with marine mining, it is not possible to predict the precise and full impact of any individual, let alone the cumulative impacts of Sandpiper, Gecko and now also Chatham Rock Phosphate of New Zealand. This is a great of concern. In national waters the government may not have environmental regulatory systems specific to marine mining in place or even the capacity to enforce regulations and conduct independent monitoring.
The geographic footprint of each individual seabed mining operation is likely to be large. The interactions between currents, weather and oceanic events will mean that the spread of pollution and impacts cannot be contained nor readily predicted. The high level of uncertainty and risk associated with individual projects will accumulate and compound in unknown ways as deep sea mining activity increases.
Mr. Wellbeloved quotes from their studies indicating that “the negative impact in percentage terms will be between 0 and 0, 5%, without any mitigation measures in place. Once there are processes in place, that figure will come down substantially. We are looking at a figure of 0, 1% over a 20-year period.”
Have these studies been subjected to thorough scrutiny by recognised and acclaimed international marine experts? We doubt it. He relies on his consultants’ studies. And we know how these reports and studies are compiled. Let them submit these studies to inter alia an authority like Dr. Alex Rogers, co-author of the 2011 State of the Oceans Report, who is on record with the following conclusion:
“As we considered the cumulative effect of what humankind does to the ocean, the implications became far worse than we had individually realized. This is a very serious situation demanding unequivocal action at every level. We are looking at consequences for humankind that will impact in our lifetime, and worse, our children’s and generations beyond that.”
Mr. Wellbeloved reckons there “will still be a fishing industry long after NMP has finished dredging”. This is cold comfort to the fishing industry and marine biologists. The answer he is not capable of giving is: what will that industry look like after all their dredging and mining operations. One shudders at that prospect of what they will leave behind for generations to come. We believe it will be an unmitigated disaster of national proportions and consequence. And this will be done to a national asset which the Namibian Constitution demands all Namibians to respect and preserve. It is embodied in that supreme law of our country and in numerous other laws that it is Namibia’s ethic to have a sustainable environment for all current and future generations.
For Swakopmund Matters the environment of the Namibian coastline and its ocean matters