Taranaki seabed mining

December 21, 2016

On the 23rd August, Trans-Tasman Resources Ltd (TTR) applied to the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) to obtain a permit to mine the seabed on the South Taranaki Bight. This application would give TTR permission to excavate 50 million tonnes of sediment from the seabed per year, for the next 35 years with 90% of it to be pumped back into the water once they have extracted the iron.

That is a total of up to 1.75 billion tonnes, which equates to 1.6 tonnes per second, every second, non-stop for 35 years.

This isn’t the first time TTR has applied to mine this area. In 2013 they submitted a very similar application, which after 4,500 submissions from the public opposing the process, was declined. The EPA stated that there was insufficient work done to show the potential impacts on the local environment. Now, three years later they are having another crack at it.

LegaSea worked with Kiwi’s Against Seabed Mining (KASM) to produce a submission opposing this potentially disastrous process. This mining puts the local fish stocks under threat. The area has been stated to be a possible breeding and nursery area for many of our favourite fish. TTR said that they will monitor the area and make changes if there are any adverse effects to the environment.

This gets us thinking, how do they plan to monitor adverse effects on populations with no current estimates of the health of the fishery, how do you know if things have changed if you don’t know where they started? On top of this, TTR has attempted to map where the sediment will be carried once dropped back into the sea. The consequences if this mapping is wrong could be disastrous. A large plume of sediment, smothering all in its path, leaving nothing but a barren wasteland. Is that what we want for our beautiful oceans?

If allowed, this could be another nail in the coffin of our inshore ecosystem, which is already burdened with sediment from land runoff. There are currently other exploratory permits from companies that are looking to do similar work in several areas around the country. This could be the landmark case and set the precedent, we need to show that this is not the future we want for our country. We value the health of our oceans, we don’t want to sell them to private companies to use and abuse as they desire, leaving us to bear the risk and live with the consequences if all doesn’t go as happily as they say.

LegaSea at the HB A&P 
The LegaSea team joined the Hawkes Bay LegaSea crew to lend a hand at the recent A&P show. Together with our platinum partner, ITM, they constructed a wall (not Trump’s kind of wall).

This wall was used to represent the ocean, people could buy a fish, sign it and stick on the wall. Money raised goes directly to help LegaSea HB in their ongoing battle to restore abundance to Hawke’s Bay waters. The kids had a great time sticking their fish to the wall, and getting the feeling of making a difference to our environment.

The wall also attracted some more familiar faces with a number of MP’s and ministers making an appearance, even Minister Nathan Guy himself managed to stop by for a chat.

LegaSea wants to thank its partners for helping to make this event a memorable occasion, providing the opportunity for the team to talk with so many friendly faces.

We’re looking forward to doing it all again next year!