iKARERE - Issue 19 , April 2012

Plan to mine sea floor questioned by fishing industry
Benthic Protection Areasclick to view pdf
In November 2007, New Zealand closed over 1.1 million sq km of the Exclusive Economic Zone to bottom trawl fishing and dredging. These Benthic Protection Areas or BPAs, promulgated by the commercial fishing industry, including Te Ohu Kaimoana after consultation with iwi, represent large, relatively unfished areas and are broadly representative of the marine environment.

Click here to see their locations within the EEZ.
Benthic Protection Areas - Mid Chatham Rise
click to view pdf

Publicly-listed company Chatham Rock Phosphate (NZX:CRP) applied in September last year to mine large areas within the BPA situated on the Chatham Rise.

Click for larger image.

Commercial fishing industry representatives, mainly through the Deepwater Group, have been in direct contact with CRP in respect of the company’s application and its potential effects on fishing, as well as the fact that the mining has been proposed to take place in an area considered by industry as a “marine national park”.

As well as being within a BPA, the Deepwater Group is “strongly opposed” to the CRP proposal because of concerns over the mining’s effect on juvenile hoki stocks in the area. The industry’s concerns have been well canvassed in an article written by Sanford managing director Eric Barratt in a recent edition of the New Zealand Herald.

Concerns raised include the potential effects on the broader marine ecosystem, the biodiversity of Chatham Rise fish populations, the sustainability of Chatham Rise fisheries, the effects on property rights and New Zealand’s international reputation as a producer of natural and sustainable food products.

Te Ohu Kaimoana supports, in principle, the position of the Deepwater Group and our fisheries analysts are working with the group on this matter. We believe that more information is required, however, on the full effects of the mining and how it’s carried out before Te Ohu Kaimoana will be able to make a definite recommendation to iwi.

There is still a long way to go before the company begins mining in the Chatham Rise. It should be noted that CRP informed the New Zealand Stock Exchange on 5 August that it had presently “paused” its application for Marine Consent until it received its Mining Licence. The company believed it was “critical to receive the licence before we spend significant more resources – in both time and money – on the Marine Consent process.”

Takaka-based CRP has raised $23.5m of an estimated $30m needed before production can begin. The company, part-owned by Dutch dredging and shipping giant Royal Boskalis and American venture capitalists, is still aiming to start up in 2015, using a ship to vacuum the sea floor 400 metres below, hoovering up sand, silt and phosphate nodules from gravel to tennis-ball sized lumps for sale unprocessed to the fertiliser market in New Zealand and overseas.

Te Ohu Kaimoana has resolved to keep iwi informed and is keen to hear your views on this matter. While not opposed to mining per se, we believe there are certain aspects of the CRP proposal that need to be squared off in respect of the possible adverse effects on the fishing industry, especially towards the lucrative hoki fishery, which last year was worth $195 million in export earnings. If you wish to discuss this with our analysts, please call the office or email Kirsty Woods.

Contact Te Ohu Kaimoana - phone: +64 4 931 9500 website: www.teohu.maori.nz

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