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Whales at risk from massive seabed mining project

Whales at risk in NZ waters from massive seabed mining project

Evidence in front of the Environmental Protection Authority today shows that a proposed sea bed mining operation off the coast of Taranaki could negatively impact on the health of whales, the Green Party said today.

Trans-Tasman Resources Limited (TTR) is proposing to undertake an iron sand mining project in the South Taranaki Bight. Nearly 50 blue whales were recently spotted near the proposed mining site, and researchers believe the area may be a blue-whale foraging ground. In the Southern Hemisphere, there are just four known blue whale foraging grounds outside of Antarctic waters.

“It appears the National Government is prepared to go to court to protect whales in the Southern Ocean but not to protect them in our own waters,” said Green Party oceans spokesperson Gareth Hughes.

“Scientists are worried about the possible effects of TTR’s iron sand mining on marine mammals, including our critically endangered Maui’s dolphin and the magnificent blue whale.

“Scientists say that the proposed sea bed mining could impact on blue whales by reducing access to feeding or migration areas, and also could cause whales injury from ship collisions.

“It’s ironic that in the same week that New Zealand was successful in its court case against illegal Japanese whaling in the Southern Ocean, our Environmental Protection Authority is considering granting an application in our own waters that could risk the lives of whales.
“This controversial mining project is a risk to whales and the National Government is clearly backing it.
“National gave Trans-Tasman Resources an R&D grant of $15 million in taxpayer money over three years to assist the project if the EPA grants the go ahead,” said Mr Hughes.
Reference:
Schedule of EPA hearing: http://www.epa.govt.nz/Publications/Hearing%20Schedule%20for%20Experts%20Wellington%20as%20at%201%20April.pdf
Note the location of the hearing is: The Marist St Pats Rugby Club, Haitaitai Park, Haitaitai, Wellington.

Scientific evidence: http://www.epa.govt.nz/Publications/SKM_TTR_Marine_mammals_and_fish_26.02.14.pdf

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