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Moratorium on Seabed Mining Sets International Standard


EMBARGOED 6AM Tuesday 24 September 2013

VICTORY: Namibian Government's Moratorium on Seabed Mining Sets International Standard

SYDNEY | The Australian-based Deep Sea Mining Campaign[1] has congratulated the Namibian Government's[2][3] on its decision to place a moratorium on seabed mining.

“The Deep Sea Mining campaign applauds the Namibian government’s decision to impose a moratorium for 18 months on marine phosphate mining” said Natalie Lowrey, communications coordinator for the Deep Sea mining campaign.

“Environmentalists and the fishing industries in Namibia, backed by international scientists and critics, have argued against the seabed mining of phosphate in their coastal waters – their concerns that seabed mining would destroy the environment and jeopardise the fishing industry has been heard and acted upon by the Namibian government.”

In announcing the decision, the Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, the Hon. Bernhard Esau, stressed that seabed mining cannot happen if there is not solid proof that it will not have negative impacts on the environment.

Marcia Stanton, Director of The Earth Organisation Namibia[4], said, “Our organisations, along with a larger group of partners, have been fighting for the precautionary principle to be employed with regard to Marine Phosphate Mining since 2011.”

“Namibia has shown wisdom in being cautious. This very caution is exactly how sustainability is achieved. Indeed if this type of decision making continues to take place, we face a bright future.”

Swakopmund Matters, a Namibian environmental group that has 15,600 contacts worldwide, stated, “The Namibian government is not prepared to be a guinea pig for an untested and unknown endeavour. It refused to let its ocean and marine resources become the proverbial experimental playground.”

“It will resonate throughout the world where battles are being fought against actions by mining companies that will harm, if not destroy, important marine areas. It will embolden all those who are standing up for the protection of their marine environments.”

There is growing opposition against seabed mining throughout the Pacific. In New Zealand, environmentalists and fisheries are opposing[5] a similar phosphate mining project in their deep seas. Over 24,000 people in Papua New Guinea have signed a petition[6] opposing experimental seabed mining in their oceans.

In Vanuatu the Hon. Ralph Regenvanu, Minister for Land and Natural Resources, has called for Pacific governments to respect people’s wishes[7] on experimental seabed mining calling for both the precautionary principle and free, prior and informed consent to be applied.

“The Namibian decision to call for a moratorium on seabed mining demonstrates to other governments that environmental concerns should take precedence over corporate profits.” continued Ms Lowrey.

“The Northern Territory state government made a decision in June this year for a total ban on seabed mining[8] in waters around Groote Eylandt in the Gulf of Carpentaria. We would encourage Namibia to consider the same if the scientific studies to be conducted over the next 18 months cannot prove sea bed mining will not have negative environmental impacts.”

Download DSM Campaign Public Statemen

Download Letter to The Hon Bernhard Esau, Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Namibia

[1] The Deep Sea Mining (DSM) Campaign is an association of NGOs and citizens from Melanesia, Australia and Canada concerned about the likely impacts of DSM on marine and coastal ecosystems and communities. The goal of our campaign is to achieve Free Prior and Informed Consent from affected communities and the application of the precautionary principle in decision-making about DSM. For more info:

[2] Deep Sea Mining Campaign letter to the The Hon. Bernhard Esau, Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, 23 September 2013,

[3] Deep Sea Mining Campaign public statement welcoming the Namibian governments decision to impose a moratorium on seabed mining.

[4] 'Marine Phosphate Mining Has Been Banned', Thursday 19 September 2013, The Earth Organisation Namibia

[5] There has been growing opposition to seabed mining in New Zealand against Chatham Rock Phosphate's seabed mining project off the coast of New Zealand: There is also opposition to the mining of black sands along the west coast of the North Island led by the community campaign Kiwis Against Seabed Mining:

[6] In October 2012 Papua New Guinean Mining Minister Byron Chan was handed a petition with 24,000 signatures from residents of Madang, Oro and New Britain provinces who say they do not want Canadian-owned Nautilus Minerals’ Solwara 1 deep sea mining project in PNG’s Bismarck Sea to go ahead. To date the PNG government has not responded to the petition as promised.

[7] Vanuatu’s Minister for Land and Natural Resources, Ralph Regenvanu called for the precautionary principle and free, prior and informed consent to be adhered to in any decision making about deep sea mining in the Pacific in his speech which opened the Pacific ACP States regional training workshop on the social impacts of deep sea mining activities.

[8] On 6 March 2012, the Northern Territory Government placed a moratorium on conducting both exploration and sea bed mining in the coastal waters of the Northern Territory. The moratorium was placed until 2015, while a comprehensive assessment of the potential impacts of such activities is undertaken. In June this year the Northern Territory Government placed a total ban on seabed mining around Groote Eylandt in the Gulf of Carpentaria.


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