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Info on sea life missing from seabed mining application

Crucial information on sea life missing from seabed mining application – KASM

Wellington, 11 March 2014 - Crucial information about the environmental impact of seabed mining is missing from Trans Tasman Resources’ evidence, despite the EPA having requested it, Kiwis Against Seabed Mining told a hearing today.

As part of its Environmental Impact Assessment, TTR “failed to sufficiently address the crucial and, in our submission, central, issue of the effects of the mining on the benthic environment,” KASM lawyer Duncan Currie told the Wellington EPA hearing into TTR’s application to mine the seabed for black sand.

The missing information included, for example, the impact on marine mammals such as whales and Maui’s dolphins, and on fish and other fauna living in the surrounding environment.

This was “a fundamental and crippling failure” around one of the issues at the heart of the seabed mining application: what happens to the sea bed and the creatures that live in it when millions of tonnes of sand are dug up and dumped back on the sea floor.

Read KASM’s opening submission here.

KASM noted that the EPA had requested the missing information. In response, the company had provided tables pointing to its existing evidence. But the information was still missing – as had been pointed out by a number of experts.

KASM called on the EPA’s hearing committee to request TTR to provide the requested information and adjourn in the hearing until it had done so.

Failure to do this would mean that the EPA would be continuing in the face of essential missing information, disadvantaging submitters who need to know TTR’s position in order for them to formulate their submissions, and disadvantaging their expert witnesses. This would be in contravention of the EEZ legislation.

“This company cannot be allowed to mine the sea bed without providing ample scientific information on how this would affect sea life, not least when scientists are saying that this region could be a key feeding ground for the endangered blue whale,” said KASM chairperson Phil McCabe.

KASM also today requested that it be allowed to subpoena one of TTR’s report authors, former NIWA scientist Dr Leigh Torres, whose report on habitat models of Southern right whales, Hector’s dolphins and killer whales in New Zealand, was part of the company’s submission, but was not being put forward as an expert witness.

“Ms Torres is the country’s leading expert on the blue whales, so by submitting a report from her, yet by not putting her up as an expert witness, TTR is preventing cross-examination of her, which we believe is unacceptable,” said McCabe.

ENDS

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