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Monday, 20 August 2012

Please Sign The Petition: Listen to Scientists, Don't Let Phosphate Mining Threaten Namibia's Ocean


In a rush to enrich themselves and their shareholders, phosphate mining interests are threatening the Namibian people by flouting procedural regularities and environmental laws in an attempt to brush over environmental assessments required by Namibian legislation. These private interests are gambling with the future health and sustainability of Namibia’s marine environment in order to make a quick buck.
 
Mining for marine phosphates in this way has never happened anywhere else in the world. The Northern Territory government in Australia recognized the threat of such destructive activities and has declared a moratorium on seabed mining in their coastal waters. Local and international scientists have raised their voices in concern of the destructive threat, yet companies such as Namibia Marine Phosphates Pty (Ltd) have paid little attention and have not bothered to investigate these concerns with appropriate fieldwork.
 
Namibia is in the enviable position of having one of the lowest population densities in the world and has no need to accept pollutive or exploitative industries at the cost of the environment. Instead we should be an example of a nation that chooses alternative sustainable industries to grow its economy without selling our children's heritage for the sake of GDP. Namibia has one of the least polluted and most productive oceans globally, with pristine beaches, healthy populations of seals, dolphins and magnificent bird life, as well as recovering populations of whales. We can grow our vibrant tourism industry and have massive potential for greater fisheries and aquaculture development to provide sustainable jobs and nourishment to our hard-working people. These sustainable industries CAN NOT coincide with mining projects that destroy the sea floor and surrounding ecosystem! We hereby petition the Minister of Environment and Tourism, Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, and the Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Bernhard Esau, to stand up for your concerned people, listen to your independent scientists and put a moratorium on phosphate mining until in-depth field studies provide conclusive evidence of how such activity will affect our healthy ocean.


Three time Olympic swimmer, 7 time Olympic medalist (5 gold, 2 silver), Aaron Peirsol, is one of the supporters of the right to protect Namibia's marine environment against the threat of marine phosphate mining and helped us in drawing up this petition. Now we need your help!  Please sign our petition by clicking here: Marine Phosphate Mining Petition

EU funding for SOPAC's Reckless Approach to Experimental Seabed Mining in the Pacific Under Fire

Thursday 16 August 2012

Civil Society highlights SOPACs corruption of the precautionary principle and questions EU support for a reckless approach to development that would be unacceptable in its own member countries. 

Civil society in the Pacific voiced their concern about SOPAC Director Russell Howarth's misrepresentation of the intent of the precautionary principle during the Rio+20 meeting in June this year. In his speech at Rio, Howarth revealed that his priority is to promote the interests of foreign mining companies at the expense of communities and the marine ecosystems on which they rely. 

The precautionary principle places the onus on developers to prove that harm will not occur to communities or ecosystems prior to a development gaining approval. The principle requires that a development would not proceed in the face of insufficient understanding about its impacts. In contrast, SOPAC's head advocates that the lack of scientific information about impacts should not be used as a reason for postponing deep sea mining projects.

Dr. Helen Rosenbaum, campaign coordinator for the Deep Sea Mining campaign in Australia and author of Out of Our Depth: Mining the Ocean Floor in Papua New Guinea said, SOPAC's director essentially agrees with us that there's insufficient scientific data about the impacts of deep sea mining. However, that's where we part company.

We call for full understanding about impacts before exploration or exploitation of deep sea mineral resources is permitted. Howarth on the other hand entirely ignores his duty of care to Pacific communities. He's willing to sacrifice their well being for perceived profits. And who will benefit from those profits?

If the deep sea mining test case, Solwara 1 in PNG, is anything to go by then very little benefit will accrue to the communities who will be affected by the project - $5 in every $1000 earned by the company.

The European Union is funding SOPAC's drive to develop a regulatory system for sea bed mining in the Pacific. The EU's Communication on the Precautionary Principle describes a rigorous risk assessment process that strives to provide a high level of protection to humans and the environment. 

Phil McCabe from Kiwis against Seabed Mining (KASM) asked how can the EU fund a regulatory system in the Pacific underpinned by the reckless approach advocated by SOPAC. It's entirely at odds with the European Union's Precautionary Principle's thorough risk analysis process. 

It's also at odds with the UN Oceans Compact launched by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon at the Law of the Sea Conference in Korea on the 12th August 2012.

According to Kerry Tetzlaff , law lecturer at the University of the South Pacific, the Pacific needs to proceed with a high degree of caution due to scientific and technological uncertainty, lack of institutional and regulatory frameworks, and issues with transparency, accountability as well as enforcement capacity.

Ms Tetzlaff, who is also Member of the IUCN Commission on Environmental Law further states, the stakes are high both for the environment and the future of Pacific Islanders. It could be argued that an even higher degree of caution should be exercised than in similar circumstances in the developed world.

For more info, please contact:
Dr. Helen Rosenbaum (Australia), hrose@vic.chariot.net.au +61 413 201 793
Kerry Tetzlaff (London), kerry.tetzlaff@usp.ac.fj, Skype: kerrytetzlaff +44 795 102 9813
Phil McCabe (New Zealand), phil@solscape.co.nz +64 27 2943 451

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Speak the Truth Even If Your Voice Shakes

One year ago today we spoke out to 300+ people about the environmental, social and legal issues that would be caused by the 'Gecko Vision Industrial Park.' Thanks to the original team who put this first public outreach together. People listened and then started a facebook page, email services, and community groups to reach the greater community and now there are over 14,000 people listening. Never doubt that speaking the truth will have an impact. Honour the truth. Don't fear. Just speak for what is true and right. If we can, you can! We will have a better world through all of us collectively speaking the truth. This I know. Thanks to all of you for all of your efforts over this last year. Keep strong and never stop standing up for what is right and just.

Public Meeting To Guide the Future of Our Marine Environment



Please Mark your calendars: starting on Tuesday August 14th, 2012, the Benguela Current Commission is hosting a set of consultative meetings to discuss key issues of concern for the future of Namibia's ocean and the greater Benguela Large Marine Ecosystem. There is a lot of pressure by industry to release hazardous wastes and toxic substances in our ocean and to mine the ocean floor. The meeting is intended to guide the Strategic Environmental Assessment for our marine environment. It is critical for the public to attend one of the meetings, as the future of our ocean it is at stake, as well as the people that rely on it for survival. Already industry has the upper hand since they have driven the process so far- we the people of the community need to balance the power as the future of our country is at stake. The public meeting in Swakopmund is on Tuesday the 14th of August 2012 at 17:30 at the auditorium of the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources National Marine Information and Research Center in Strand Street, Swakopmund (Namibia). There are also additional meetings on Wednesday the 15th of August and Thursday the 16th of August (as noted in the picture above). Please feel free to attend any or all of the meetings and raise your voice. If you cannot attend and would like to receive updates or become a registered interested and affected party, please send an email to gudrun.denker@saiea.com