Sea bed mining proposal a bad portent
Wednesday 19 March 2014
Sea bed mining proposal a bad portent says Waitakere Ranges Protection Society
A proposal for sea bed mining off Taranaki may well be a bad portent for the Waitakeres West Coast further north says Waitakere Ranges Protection Society President, John Edgar. “Even though the current proposal is for an area off Patea, almost the whole coast has been issued with prospecting licences, meaning similar proposals for the Waitakeres West Coast lie ahead”.
Trans-Tasman Resources propose seabed mining over an area covering about 65km2 in water 20-45m deep. Using 350 tonne, twelve meter long seabed crawlers, 50 million tonnes of sand per annum will be pumped to a processing ship where iron ore is separated magnetically, with ‘waste’ material returned to the sea forming a sediment bed up to 5m deep.
“There are immediate and long term effects of these sea bed mining proposals”, says Mr Edgar, “which have led to environmentalists, residents, and the fishing industry, among a record of almost 4700 submitters opposing the current application”.
“Risks include long term adverse effects on the coastal and marine environment for business, recreation and habitat. The sea bed mining process involves sucking up and then redepositing sand, destructive in itself, but with the sediment plume and deposition field also smothering benthic sea life and reef ecology, damaging mussels, worms, and crustaceans, benthic invertebrates, phytoplankton, and zooplankton, impacting the entire food chain from fish to seabirds and cetaceans. In addition, there will be reduced access to fishing grounds and public water space; and impacts from seismic testing on and displacement of, Maui’s & Hector’s dolphins, Orca, Sperm whales, Blue whales and Southern Right whales, all threatened or endangered. Freshwater species which spend time in the marine environment as part of their life cycle may also be impacted”.
“The sands being processed are a non-renewable resource and are vital for replenishing coastlines, sand banks and surf breaks up the coast, affecting the values of West Coast communities to the north”.
2000 submitters have asked to be heard in hearings taking place between March and May this year. “This will be a case to watch as it has bearing on the West Coast values we know and love, and may well set a precedent for further applications closer to home” said a concerned Mr Edgar.