20 Aug 2012

SOPAC role in seabed mining queried

12:49 pm on 20 August 2012

There are questions over the role of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community's Applied Geoscience and Technology Division, or SOPAC, in deep sea mining in the region.

SOPAC has been holding workshops to prepare Pacific Island communities for seabed mining.

SOPAC's director, Russell Howorth, says island governments need to establish regulatory frameworks for the emerging seabed mining industry.

However, Phil McCabe from the group Kiwis Against Seabed Mining ,says it's unclear why SOPAC is promoting deep sea mining when the risks are unknown.

"I think they're setting up a framework to facilitate the sell-off of the resources that are in the oceans. They're setting up that framework before people are even aware of what they're doing. The consultation hasn't even started."

Phil McCabe also questions the European Union's funding of SOPAC's work in this area.

He says it's at odds with the EU's Precautionary Principle, advocating thorough risk analysis.