Jason Gima Wuri | Post Courier
11 October 2012
The poor application of international laws and Papua New Guinea laws and policies on deep sea mining is a very serious challenge in managing and protecting the resources of the oceans, and the health of communities in PNG.
Head of environmental sciences and geology at the University of PNG (UPNG), Professor Chalapan Kaluwin, made these comments recently in light of the seabed mining debate.
He said that international laws such as the United Nations Law of the Sea, UNCLOS, International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Laws, Noumea Treaty, UNCED agreement and PNG’s laws and policies such as the Mining Act, Environmental Act etc, where poorly or misapplied. Especially with regard to the Deep Sea Mining ( Solowara 1) project.
“It is important to know that there is no Deep Sea Mining Policy or Act in the world. In managing such resource for PNG government and its stakeholders must understand this status.
“In addition, the relative short term (2-3 years) scientific and environment results, studies, (mainly desk top models) and reports carried in the Solowara 1 region (EIS/EIA report) that were submitted to the PNG government for Phase 1 (30 Months Project) should be treated with caution and precautionary principles must be applied until full scientific proof is available,” Professor Chalapan said.
Those reports, he said, do not carry any substance on being proactive in getting the PNG Govt to ensure that there is a policy in place, and especially in developing a PNG Ocean Policy to protect its fisheries, minerals, biodiversity, environment, culture and its people as priorities.
Looking at mining in the ocean is a small part of resources in the PNG EEZ. There must be a holistic approach to manage our resources in this oceans and EEZ.
He said the Nautilius company has not done much research and monitoring work in the area to provide confidence for PNG people, especially provincial communities.
There is no socio-economic assessment by Nautilius and the PNG Government to provide a long term strategy for fisheries, biodiversity, environment, cultures, or people’s health.
“Can we guarantee that the health of our people and oceans will be protected? No you cannot.
“Application of adaptive technology in the tropical marine ecosystem has very serious limitation in PNG; and deep sea mining must be evaluated and monitored for mitigation purposes.
“Given the sustainable development (economic, environment and livelihoods) scenarios and assessments of PNG, coupled with too many questions and uncertainty on the Solowara 1 project, the PNG government and its people must defer the implementation of this pilot project for the time being, if the Bougainville Copper lesson is to be model for the Bismarck Seas and its provinces.
“Our review and analysis on other documents, our experiences and based on the above and the EIS for Phase 1 of Solowara 1, strongly believe that Solowara 1 pilot project will be a long term disaster for PNG and the health of its people,” Professor Chalapan said in conclusion.