Respoted from Stop Experimental Seabed Mining facebook page
Below is the speech presented by Mr. Oigen Schulze, team leader of New Ireland-based NGO, Zero Inc. He states the position of people in his West Coast New Ireland community. This speech was presented on the 23rd of October at the Holiday Inn, where 24,000 signatures against experimental sea bed mining were presented to Hon. Gary Juffa, Oro Governor and Hon. Byron Chan, Minister for Mining.
My name is Oigen Schulze and I come from New Ireland Province. I am 26 years old and the president of a newly formed NGO based in New Ireland Province, Zero Inc. I come from the communities on the West coast who are well known for the “Shark Calling Festival”
The issue of Seabed Mining is a great threat to our communities on the West coast as the sea is not only our garden but it is a ritual ground consisting of several cultural stamps located in various areas along the Central New Ireland coastline.
The last three (3) years during the Shark calling Festivals it has been unusual for paddlers who have been unsuccessful with their catch. Since the granting of the prospecting license, the people have noticed differences in the sea. The water has been seen to be dusty and slightly murky making it impossible for divers in search of food.
In 2010 sightings of dead schools of tuna washed up ashore on the beaches of Kaluan Village. However due to transportation problems they could not bring samples up to Fisheries Authorities in Kavieng for testing.
The questions here lies are:
1. What kind of exploration is Nautilus conducting?
2. Are they using machines, which we are unaware of the impacts it could cause to the marine life?
3. What guarantee do we have that the explorations taking place are not disturbing our marine eco-system?
4. Can we trust them that they are being transparent and not biased?
5. The sediments, which are causing the water to be dusty and murky, during calm weather… Could it be from the sea floor?
6. How is it possible for a school of dead fish to be spotted on the shores of West coast New Ireland when the zones in which RD’s fishing boats operate in, runs behind the Emirau and Mussau Islands and not between the shores of New Ireland and East New Britain?
7. Our government is against the Seabed Mining. There was never a consultation meeting with 20,000 people within the proposed “Solwara 1” project area on the West coast of New Ireland, so who is responsible for compiling that report?and does Nautilus have any evidence at all to support that statement of the meeting which never took place?
I, as the voice of the communities in New Ireland request that this project be put to a stop as we do not really know what we are getting ourselves into. Majority of the population of island communities depend entirely on fisheries and marine resource for their livelihood and economic benefits. We are currently facing land shortage due to population boom and land grabbing issues, the sea is now our major source for future generations to sustain themselves if all else fails.