Regional | Kaitiaki

Seabed mining in Taranaki could put endangered marine life at risk

Local iwi Ngāti Ruanui and Ngā Rauru Kītahi have voiced strong opposition to a bid by Trans Pacific Resources Ltd to mine the iron sand seabed off the coast of Pātea. If the bid is accepted by The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA), spokesperson for Forest and Bird Melanie Nelson says it will be detrimental to marine life including the endangered blue whale.

Soon New Zealand will find out if the first seabed mine in New Zealand has been approved.

Forest and Bird spokesperson Melanie Nelson says, “There are a number of whale species there that will be devastated by the sonic echoes so we should be careful we need to look after those endangered whales.”

Ngāti Ruanui spokesperson Debbie Ngarewa-Packer says Taranaki iwi are still fighting for their environment.

“We're hoping that it’s a decision that’s going to reflect the views of the community and that is that these resources of ours are here for future generations and we’re obliged today as kaitiaki to make sure that our taonga are here for future usage.”

The Environmental Protection Authority has considered the application by Trans-Tasman Resources Limited for marine consents and marine discharge consents to extract and process iron sand within the South Taranaki Bight. Melanie Nelson says that if it goes ahead it will have major implications for local marine life.

“The discharge that will erupt from the seabed is another major problem facing the many marine mammals there such as dolphins, fish and all marine mammals.”

Debbie Ngarewa-Packer says no matter the outcome, the tribes of Taranaki will continue to assert their right to protect the environment.

“The thing for us is if it does continue and the application is approved we will then be forced through another legal battle.”

The EPA is now preparing the decision for publication.