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Opposition to seabed mining in blue whale foraging area

Opposition lines up against seabed mining in blue whale foraging area
Press Release, 5 February 2014

Key local opposition and evidence is starting to line up against seabed mining, with the latest being the local runanga Kiwis Against Seabed Mining (KASM) said today.

The manawhenua in the affected area, Te Rununga o Ngati Ruanui, said in a press release yesterdaythat seabed mining was “not for Ngati Ruanui,” arguing that a “raft of lingering concerns” meant they had no choice but to oppose Trans Tasman Resources’ (TTR) bid to mine the seabed off the South Taranaki Bight.

They join Taranaki’s Ngaruahine Iwi, who said last week they are also opposing the application to the EPA.

KASM has recorded 4700 submissions against TTR’s application through its website, not only from the region, but from around the country, especially Auckland and the Waikato, including people such as former All Black Josh Kronfeld and artist Nigel Brown. A number of environmental groups and recreational fishing organisations are also opposing.

The Taranaki Regional Council, while not directly opposing TTR’s application, has also expressed serious concerns, questioning the weight of economic benefit against the environmental impacts.

Earlier this week, NIWA scientists reported that 50 blue whales had been seen in the region, beginning to confirm the theory that the South Taranaki Bight is a key foraging ground for the endangered giants of the sea.

Blue whales feed on phytoplankton. Digging up millions of tonnes of material from the seabed would create plumes in the water column, reducing plankton production and therefore reducing the food for blue whales.

“That this area could be a crucial feeding ground for the blue whales alone should be reason enough for the EPA to reject seabed mining,” said KASM chairperson Phil McCabe.

He noted that there had also been two Maui’s dolphins sighted near the proposed mining site in the last few weeks.

“Mining the black sand off our precious coastline is wrong, and it’s clear that there’s a groundswell of opposition against it, from all directions,” he said.

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