The Bishops were informed that the machines belonging to the Company, Nautilus have arrived already in Port Moresby and are ready to go ahead with the testing of technology for seabed mining in the waters of Papua New Guinea. If successful, the actual seabed mining will be done in many parts of the Pacific with the agreement of the different island countries.
Responsible use of the environment and resources is a duty and task for everyone. The Catholic Bishops support the coastal people and the groups who raise their voice to question the proposed Seabed Mining. Far from being “anti-development” such communities wish to pursue sustainable development including family friendly tourism, fisheries and agriculture. But they want to know what kind of international agreements permit foreign companies to engage in practices and processes which in their own country are illegal? The sea is a treasure for all and should never become a “playground of exploitation.”
Seabed Mining will cause a direct physical destruction of unique ecosystems; noise generated by the intended 24 hour per day operation will have an effect on the dolphins, sharks, tuna, whales and leatherback turtles. There is nearly always a risk and a price for development but in this case the risk and the price are too high. If something goes wrong, PNG lacks the technology and the infrastructure to deal with any unexpected environmental disaster. This admittedly amazing technology should be tested in a much safer environment. PNG government is incurring a high financial cost expecting high returns. PNG does not need to add more burdens to the already struggling economy.
Seabed Mining has a social impact. Given the track record of major mining and other projects in PNG, communities affected by Seabed Mining may not receive the development projects they need. It has already divided communities who were not able to come to a traditional PNG consensus on the benefits of this project.
We realise the negative impact Seabed mining will have on the livelihood of the people for whom sea is part of their home. We also acknowledge the campaigns against Seabed Mining by local communities in PNG and other countries of the Pacific.
The Catholic Bishops therefore call on the PNG Government and other Pacific countries to put a stop to testing of Seabed technology on PNG Land or Seas. They call on all the people and the governments of the Pacific countries to stand together with the Alliance of Solwara Warriors to say “NO” to Seabed Mining in PNG or other countries of the Pacific.
We are trying to repair the damages done to the land. Let us leave the ocean alone.
+Bp Arnold Orowae
President of the CBC PNG/SI
3 May 2017