NZ abstains on global seabed mining moratorium vote at IUCN

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The New Zealand Government’s decision to
abstain from voting in support of a deep
sea mining
moratorium at the IUCN World Conservation
Congress has been met with sharp criticism from Greenpeace
Aotearoa.

It was revealed this week that New Zealand,
which is represented at the IUCN World Conservation Congress
by the Department of Conservation (DOC), abstained from
voting whilst the motion received overwhelming support from
other countries including the Pacific island nation of
Tonga.

Greenpeace Aotearoa seabed mining campaigner
James Hita said the New Zealand Government continues to fall
behind the rest of the world in preserving our
oceans.

“It’s incredibly disappointing to see the
New Zealand Government opt out of supporting the deep sea
mining moratorium. Deep sea mining is one of the greatest
threats our oceans face at the moment, especially in the
Pacific. We don’t have time anymore to simply abstain from
voting.

“New Zealander and our Pacific cousins need
New Zealand’s government to be on the right side of
history on deep sea mining. Abstaining from voting – is not.
Greenpeace Aotearoa wants the Government to take a
leadership position on deep sea mining by supporting the
moratorium especially when we are a Pacific country,” says
Hita.

Delegates at this year’s global conservation
summit also voted overwhelmingly for the reform of the
International Seabed Authority (ISA), the UN-mandated body
tasked with regulating this activity.

Eighty-one
governments and government agencies attending the IUCN World
Conservation Congress voted in favor of the moratorium, laid
out in Motion 69, while 18 voted against and 28 abstained.
Around 577 NGOs and civil society organisations also voted
in favor, while only 32 voted against and 35
abstained.

Other countries who abstained from voting
included the United Kingdom, Canada, the United States of
America, Australia and France.

“The relevance of the
moratorium’s support is even more important following the
South Pacific nation of Nauru’s decision to trigger the
“two-year rule” only months ago,” says Hita.

The two
year rule requires the ISA to allow the nation to begin
mining in two years’ time under whatever regulations have
been established by then.

Nauru sponsors a subsidiary
of a Canadian company previously known as ‘DeepGreen’.
Recently, DeepGreen formally merged with Sustainable
Opportunities Acquisition Corporation to form The Metals
Company, which is valued at $2.9 billion.

Activists
aboard Greenpeace’s Rainbow Warrior confronted
a ship chartered by DeepGreen in the Pacific this year
,
displaying banners reading “Stop Deep Sea Mining” and
painting “RISK” on the side of the vessel.

If deep sea
mining is allowed to progress forward in two years time,
there could be an accelerated increase of activity in the
region as other countries and companies will seek to obtain
licenses.

Greenpeace Aotearoa is also calling
on the NZ Govt to ban all seabed mining
and a supporting
petition has been signed by more than 22,000.

“The New
Zealand Government failed to step up and show support but
the overall vote sends a clear and powerful message to the
International Seabed Authority that there is no global
support to mine the deep sea,” says
Hita.

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