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Environmental impacts of seabed mining brochure
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Te Ipukarea Society Brochure 2017-18
Alex Herman, Courtesy of C I News Teina Mackenzie (on the right)

With financial support from SPC-EU SOPAC (the South Pacific Applied Geoscience Division), the search has begun for up to 12 young Cook Islanders (14-19 years) interested in participating in a national debate. They do not have to have any knowledge of Seabed Minerals – although it is expected that they will learn a lot about the topic during the process.

The aim of the debate being co-ordinated by Teina Mackenzie (TIS) and Alex Herman (SBMA) is to increase public awareness on deep sea mining issues and how these issues might relate to the Cook Islands and also to encourage youth to engage and develop a better understanding of deep seabed minerals. “It’s important to hear from our youth because, as our future leaders, young people should have an understanding of development issues affecting our country and be given the opportunity to contribute through a forum such as the debate” said Alex Herman.

“This debate will challenge our youth to extend their understanding of the potential effects – both positive and negative – of this pioneer industry; and to voice their opinions in a public forum” added Teina Mackenzie.

The Debate will be run along the lines of a competition. Once up to 12 entrants are identified, the organisers will disseminate a comprehensive set of papers and workshop material that have been previously published and shared within the seabed mining community. This information will allow the debaters to gain knowledge and will prepare them to debate the issues relating to the Cook Islands seabed minerals.

The aspiring debaters will also have the opportunity to participate in further information gathering, field trips and training sessions prior to the final debate early October.

As part of the generous sponsorship that the SOPAC Deep Seabed Minerals (DSM) Project are providing is the opportunity for the overall winner of the debate to accompany the representatives from Te Ipukarea and Seabed Minerals Authority in attending the next SOPAC DSM Workshop taking place in Fiji in early December. Return flights, meals, accommodation and travel insurance will be provided. As such, those who wish to enter the debate must have parental consent to travel and will need a valid passport.

“This prize is ideal in that it celebrates a young person who is able to understand the various issues and who can articulate their views well, regardless of which position they advocate.” said Teina.

The winner will meet regional decision makers and have the opportunity to contribute at the workshop in Fiji.

A brief submission on why you would like to participate is required. For more information please contact:

Teina Mackenzie

Email: teinam@gmail.com

Ph: 55 742

Alex Herman

Email: alex.herman@cookislands.gov.ck

Ph: 29 193

Reef Survey in Mitiaro

The boat arrived in Manuae on Tuesday 30th July, and we did 3 dives that day. On Wednesday we did 2 more dives in the morning, and spent the afternoon exploring the island. We found a FAD from a large Purse Seine vessel, the Amalia. This boat can hold over 1,300,000 kgs of tuna in its hold!!. Hopefully this FAD drifted in from outside our EEZ, and is not an indication that the boat was fishing in our waters.

The reef in Manuae was spectacular, lots of healthy growth, and the water was as clear as anyone has seen. However, there we also signs of coral disease noticed at one site.

The boat left Manuae on Wednesday night for Mitiaro, arriving early Thursday morning after an extremely rough crossing. The team did 2 dives on the leeward reef, and went ashore in the afternoon to make a presentation to the community about what we are doing. This was well received by the 30 people who attended, and was followed by a kaikai provided by the community.

New TIS employees TIS President Ian Karika

At the recent Annual General Meeting of the Te Ipukarea Society (TIS) a new board and committee were elected. Together with recent staff appointments aligned to the Cook Islands Marine Park, this enhanced TIS team is bursting with energy and welcoming all the challenges that lie ahead in the next 12 months.

“There has been no shortage of change in the last month at TIS” said re-elected President Ian Karika. “Not only have we got a new team, we also have new premises and we are open to welcoming in new visitors and members, hopefully lots of them!”

“We are continuing our work on new and not so new projects. Our core areas of focus Biodiversity, Waste, Ecologically Sustainable Development and Youth remain as important now as they did when we were formed (as the first Cook Islands environmental NGO) in 1996.”

“Our most recent task – establishing the Cook Islands Marine Park – compliments our other work and we feel privileged to have been given such a task. We are conscious we will only get one shot at successfully establishing the Marine Park and we intend to deliver on that challenge.”

Following the recent AGM, the Te Ipukarea board members now comprise:

Office holders: Dame Margaret Karika (Patron), Ian Karika (President), Carinna Langsford (Vice President) and Teresa Arneric (Secretary/Treasurer).

Joining the board is a very enthusiastic team of volunteers.

The TIS office is now located in Tupapa, about 250m town and sea side of the Fishing Club, within the next couple of days signage will be up which will make the task of identifying our spot that much easier – (Jaewyn MacKay – TIS Media Release.)

Te Ipukarea Society representative Teina Mackenzie was at the Social Impacts of Deep Sea Mineral Activities and Stakeholder Participation’ regional workshop recently in Vanuatu. She said the regional workshop provided a great opportunity for countries to understand the many factors that influence sound decisions and the need to encourage broad participation.

“Discussing the issues regarding economic development, and to what extent they may or may not supersede the need to proceed with caution when there are many social factors that will be affected, is a great start,” she says.

Pelenatita Kara from the Civil Society Forum of Tonga, says she will endeavour to use knowledge from the training to create a platform for public consultation and dialogue where civil society organisations, the wider community, the private sector and government can continue to discuss deep sea minerals issues.

“I hope everyone else will do this as well so we can make use of the excellent strategies and framework proposed during this week’s training. We are looking at being as inclusive as we can to ensure we maximize the chances for people to get their queries clarified and have both government and companies table their cases,” she said.

Margaret Aulda, environment officer for Papua New Guinea’s Mineral Resources Authority says the main objective of the workshop was to bring the different stakeholders together in one room to talk about the potential social impacts of deep sea mining activities.

“I think that deep sea mining risks should be thoroughly identified and mitigation and management measure should be developed to addresses these risks. Concerned parties should always be updated through constant consultation and awareness. There has to be transparent and effective consultation between all stakeholders and this process can be achievable if countries have legislation and policies in place that can give effects and legality to the whole process. At the end of the day the onus is with the government of the day to decide in the best interest of its people,” she says.

The Pacific Deep Sea Minerals Project is the first major initiative designed to regulate this new activity in a co-ordinated way within the Pacific region. The project is funded by the European Union and managed by SOPAC, the Applied Geoscience and Technology Division of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community. Tawake says the project is to provide countries with the relevant information and advice they need to make informed decisions about deep sea mining within their national jurisdictions.

“I think it’s fair to say that Pacific Island countries still need to do more work to help the wider public to understand the potential benefits and impacts of any deep sea mining activities that may occur within the territorial waters and Exclusive Economic Zones of these countries,” he says.

“The SPC-EU DSM Project is advocating the application of the precautionary approach in all deep sea mineral activities.”

Marumaru Atua anchors just off Suwarrow

The Traditional Cook Islands Voyaging Vaka (Canoe) the Marumaru Atua, was back in Rarotonga with some extra cargo. Taking a team of 10 volunteers, it set off for Suwarrow two weeks prior and after a 4 day voyage arrived just outside the reef of Suwarrow. Staying for four days the crew then joined in on the Rat Eradication that had already been done by a group of ten for the past three weeks. The crew were happy to help out with the project as they too could see the benefit first hand in preserving the quality of life and especially bird life in this pristine bird sanctuary.

After the four day lay over all the Eradication staff including photographers, and Environment service staff put their hand to the job of being part of the crew to sail Marumaru Atua back to Rarotonga. With a longer trip back due to not so friendly winds, after six days of sailing the beautiful waters back from Suwarrow, Rarotonga was a beautiful sight. The crew though a little weary from the Sun and continuing shifts on watch welcomed the extra hands the Rat Eradication team provided and added to the experience of sailing a traditional voyaging canoe. With everyone home safe, the question now was whether the Vaka would go back to Suwarrow in November to pick up the two game keepers that were stationed there before the return of the hurricane season.

Steve briefing the Team for Suwarrow Project Team

Suwarrow Atoll, a necklace of remote Cook Islands land forms, has been renowned for many things over the centuries; a Pacific treasure trove, a hermit’s paradise and a birder’s wonderland. It would be perfect except for an invasion of rats.

Across Polynesia, Pacific, Brown and Black Rat brought in by vessels over the past 200 years have driven more bird species to extinction than in any other region in the world.

Suwarrow, where 100,000 seabirds are found, has not escaped the slaughter.

“Left unchecked the rats put at risk globally important seabird populations found at the site”, said Ian Karika – from Te Ipukarea society (BirdLife in the Cook Islands).

Its importance as a breeding sanctuary for seabirds, and Important Bird Area, can’t be underestimated. It is home to 9% of the world’s population of Lesser Frigatebird, 3 % of the world’s Red-Tailed Tropicbird and a staggering 100,000 Sooty Tern.

“The fear is the rats will continue their invasion to other parts of the atoll”, said BirdLife’s Steve Cranwell who has removed invasive species from 30 islands across the Pacific.

Now BirdLife International and Te Ipukarea Society (BirdLife in the Cook Islands) are about to set off for Suwarrow to eradicate the rats for good. Following two years of careful planning, the small team will use their expert knowledge to eradicate all the rats and save the remaining seabird colonies.

Joining the team is wildlife documentary filmmaker Nick Hayward who will be producing a film about the operation and will be posting regular blogs about the trip via satellite phone. Nick won a place on the trip following a worldwide search by BirdLife for an experienced wildlife filmmaker to record the adventure.

“I’m really looking forwards to blogging from the field and telling the fascinating stories which will happen during such an amazing trip”, said Nick as he prepared to leave Rarotonga.

“With invasive species accounting for 90 % of all known extinctions since 1800 we know the stakes are high”, added Nick.

Members of the project team preparing for Suwarrow. Ian Karika (far right) and Steve Cranwell (third from right).

The baiting operation will last for just a month, a successful decade of perfecting the science of island rat eradication has meant less ‘wait and see’ and more extermination of rats.

In mid-May, the team will return from Suwarrow to Rarotonga, a 950 kilometre journey on the Cook Islands Traditional Vaka, Marumaru atua.

The film which Nick will create – with the kind support of Wildiaries – will be launched in June at BirdLife’s World congress, and used to launch a new global Invasive Alien Species Programme.

You can follow Nick’s posts by subscribing to emails at http://birdlife-pacific.wildiaries.com/or through BirdLife’s Facebook and Twitter pages.

The BirdLife Invasive Alien Species Programme urgently needs your support to tackle more sites and save more species. To support our work and make a donation today, please go to www.justgiving.com/BirdLife-invasive-specieswhere every penny counts. Thank you.

The expedition to remove rats from Suwarrow National Park is a joint project between BirdLife International, Te Ipukarea Society (BirdLife Partner in the Cook Islands) and the Cook Island National Environment Service. The project is being kindly supported by the European Community, David and Lucile Packard Foundation, SPREP, GEF and Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund, and forms part of the BirdLife Invasive Alien Species Programme which is tackling this greatest of threats to wildlife around the world. BirdLife wishes to thank the efforts of many who are supporting the programme including Pacific Invasive Initiative, Pacific Invasive Learning Network, New Zealand Department of Conservation the University of the South Pacific, Landcare Research New Zealand, Island Conservation, Wildiaries and Nick Hayward.

By Steve Menzies, Communications Adviser for the SPC-EU Deep Sea Minerals Project.

From March 11-15th 2013, the Kingdom of Tonga is to host a regional workshop on “Law and Contract Negotiations for Deep Sea Minerals” in Nuku’alofa, on behalf of the SPC-EU Pacific Deep Sea Minerals Project.

The EU-funded Pacific Deep Sea Minerals Project managed by SOPAC, the Applied Geoscience and Technology Division of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, involves 15 Pacific Island Countries including: Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Timor Leste, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

Hannah Lily, Legal Adviser for the Pacific Deep Sea Minerals Project, says a main objective of the Tonga workshop is to provide government officials with the knowledge, skills and confidence to negotiate effectively with well-resourced deep sea mining companies.

Ms Lily says the Pacific Deep Sea Minerals Project stresses the need for countries to first put in place robust law and regulatory mechanisms for the national management of deep sea minerals before any negotiations take place.

“We strongly recommend that countries have these mechanisms in place before any individual project negotiations commence. Dedicated seabed minerals legislation will assist the country meets its obligations under international law, such as the protection of the marine environment. It will also provide clarity and stability to that country’s operating environment and what it expects from mineral companies,” she says.

“Seabed mineral resources represent an exciting new economic opportunity for Pacific Island States. But, in order to make the most of this opportunity, governments will need to find responsible exploration and mining companies, and work to set terms that provide sufficient protection and financial return to the country,” she says.

Ms, Lily says one of the main objectives of the Pacific Deep Sea Minerals Project is to enable countries to make informed decisions about whether or not to give out exploration and mining licences for their deep sea minerals resources.

“If those licences are issued it is critical that they contain terms that protect the country from environmental damage, protect the people from impacts on their livelihoods, and ensure a proper financial return that will be collected and managed responsibly,” she says.

spc_logoDr. Taaniela Kula, Deputy Secretary for Tonga’s Natural Resources at the Ministry of Lands Survey and Natural Resources, believes the upcoming workshop will be critical for public administrators throughout the region.

“I don’t want to speak on behalf of all Pacific Islanders but I don’t think that negotiation skills are something that Pacific Islanders are particularly good at. From my perspective Pacific Islanders are brought up to respect others and especially foreigners. With long-term management issues like deep sea minerals I think there can be a tendency to feel inferior in front of big companies that come with a lot of status, wealth and technical knowledge,” he says.

Mr. Akuila Tawake, Manager of the Pacific Deep Sea Minerals Project, says the regional initiative has been specifically designed to operate as an independent adviser. “The role of the project is to provide countries with the relevant information and advice they need to make informed decisions whether they want allow deep sea mining within their national jurisdictions,” he says.

Although the 4-year Pacific Deep Sea Minerals Project is scheduled to end in 2014, Mr. Tawake says Pacific Island countries will still need to have the capacity to deal with this important resource management issue over the next 20 to 30 years.

“We are trying to assist the Pacific Island countries to learn from the mistakes that have been made in other industries like fisheries and on land mining. But ultimately, after the Project has provided its advice and support, it is up to the countries to decide whether or not they want to proceed with mining their deep sea mineral resources,” he says.

“Over the last two years we have done our best to engage with all stakeholders in each of the countries. Across the countries we have been holding “National Deep Sea Minerals Stakeholder Consultation Workshops” where we invite all levels of stakeholders including a community leaders and NGOs.

“For the Tonga workshop we are inviting representatives from governments, civil society, mining companies and some experts from outside the region. This holistic approach signifies that we are serious about taking an inclusive approach to work with all stakeholders interested in deep sea minerals in the Pacific,” he says.

Teina MacKenzie, from the Te Ipukarea Society in the Cook Islands, is one of the stakeholders representing interested civil society organisations the Tonga workshop. In September 2012 the Te Ipukarea Society collaborated with 20 other non-government and academic institutions to pass Resolution 79 at the World Conservation Congress in Jeju, Korea, which focuses on the protection of deep-ocean ecosystems and biodiversity from the threats of sea bed mining.

Because of the rapidly growing commercial interest in deep sea minerals Mrs. MacKenzie says it’s even more critical for civil society organisations to get directly involved in this process as quickly as possible.

“We need to be involved to make sure that legislation is robust and there are no loopholes. It’s important that communities in all the countries really engage in the process of developing the legislation, frameworks and policies in each of their own countries. Transparency will come when the communities really understand what the issues are. We all need to be a part of this conversation,” she says.

Mrs. MacKenzie says that Pacific Island governments also have an obligation to get the necessary resources, information and systems in place before they start making hurried negotiations with the private sector.

“I can understand civil society organisations saying “Why are we even taking this up when we are not prepared for it?” This is what scares communities. They look at Government making decisions without consultation and then not having the means or the resources to be able to do it effectively. If every country really wants to develop this resource they really need to prioritize and give it the dedicated human resource and expertise that is required,” she says.

Teina Mackenzie (on the right) will be representing the Cook Islands in Tonga this week.

Tonga will host a regional workshop on Law and Contract Negotiations for Deep Sea Minerals in Nuku’alofa, on behalf of the SPC-EU Pacific Deep Sea Minerals Project from March 11-15.The Pacific Deep Sea Minerals Project is funded by the European Union and managed by SOPAC, the Applied Geoscience and Technology Division of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community.The project includes 15 Pacific Island Countries: the Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Timor Leste, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

Cook Islander Teina Mackenzie, from the Te Ipukarea Society, is one of the stakeholders representing interested civil society organisations at the Tonga workshop. In September 2012 the Te Ipukarea Society collaborated with a wide range of non-government and academic institutions to pass Resolution 79 at the World Conservation Congress in Jeju, Korea, which focuses on the protection of deep-ocean ecosystems and biodiversity from the threats of sea bed mining.Because of the rapidly growing commercial interest in deep sea minerals Mackenzie says it’s even more critical for civil society organisations to get directly involved in this process as quickly as possible. She insists that governments must ensure there is comprehensive stakeholder engagement before licences and contracts are even negotiated.

“Those who have been involved with the issue of seabed minerals mining recognise it is a pioneering activity and there are still many unknown factors surrounding its many impacts.“The argument has been made that the lack of data and information should not hinder development, but there is enough reason and logic to maintain that proceeding with caution is paramount. It must be a priority for individual countries to obtain further scientific and technical data and to research possible impacts. This should supersede the necessity to focus on enticing mining companies to do business in their country,” she says.

However, Mackenzie believes there is an urgent need for all conscientious non-state actors to be prepared if their governments decide to proceed with mining for seabed minerals. “We need to be involved to make sure that legislation is robust and there are no loopholes. It’s important that communities in all the countries really engage in the process of developing the legislation, frameworks and policies in each of their own countries. Transparency will come when the communities really understand what the issues are. We all need to be a part of this conversation,” she says.

Hannah Lily, legal adviser for the Pacific Deep Sea Minerals Project, says a main objective of the Tonga workshop is to provide government officials with the knowledge, skills and confidence to negotiate effectively with well-resourced deep sea mining companies. Lily says the project stresses the importance for countries to put in place robust law and regulatory mechanisms for the national management of deep sea minerals before any negotiations take place. “We strongly recommend that countries have these mechanisms in place before any individual project negotiations commence. Dedicated seabed minerals legislation will assist the country to meet its obligations under international law, such as the protection of the marine environment. It will also provide clarity and stability to that country’s operating environment and what it expects from mineral companies.”
“Seabed mineral resources represent an exciting new economic opportunity for Pacific Island States. But, in order to make the most of this opportunity, governments will need to find responsible exploration and mining companies, and work to set terms that provide sufficient protection and financial return to the country,” she says.Lily says one of the main objectives of the Pacific Deep Sea Minerals Project is to enable countries to make informed decisions about whether or not to give out exploration and mining licences for their deep sea minerals resources.“If those licences are issued it is critical that they contain terms that protect the country from environmental damage, protect the people from impacts on their livelihoods, and ensure a proper financial return that will be collected and managed responsibly,” she says.

Taaniela Kula, deputy secretary for Tonga’s Natural Resources at the Ministry of Lands, Environment, Climate Change and Natural Resources, believes the upcoming workshop will be critical for public administrators throughout the region.
“I think the Pacific Deep Sea Minerals Project is already helping many Pacific Island Seabed Mineral Authorities to build much needed skills in areas such as international law, contract negotiations, geological and technical knowledge, environmental management and a greater understanding of potentially critical socio-economic issues related to deep sea mining.

“The workshop here in Tonga is extremely important because, if government administrations don’t build these important skills, they may overlook critical aspects of exploration and mining agreements that could lead to possible disputes after any contracts have been already been signed,” he says.“By building these skills will be able to build greater confidence among our administrators because we will know exactly what terms we are signing up for. These skills are obviously critical when you are sitting around a negotiation table with a well-resourced company where there may already be the perception that they have great status, wealth and access to a lot of the technical knowledge about deep sea mineral resources,” he says.

Akuila Tawake, manager of the Pacific Deep Sea Minerals Project, says the regional initiative has been specifically designed to operate as an independent adviser. “The role of the project is to provide countries with the relevant information and advice they need to make informed decisions whether they want deep sea mining within their national jurisdictions,” he says.Although the 4-year Pacific Deep Sea Minerals Project is scheduled to end in 2014, Tawake says Pacific Island countries will still need to have the capacity to deal with this important resource management issue over the next 20 to 30 years.“We are trying to assist the Pacific Island countries to learn from the mistakes that have been made in other industries like fisheries and on land mining.

But ultimately, after the Project has provided its advice and support, it is up to the countries to decide whether or not they want to proceed with mining their deep sea mineral resources,” he says.“Over the last two years we have done our best to engage with all stakeholders in each of the countries. Across the countries we have been holding “National Deep Sea Minerals Stakeholder Consultation Workshops” where we invite all levels of stakeholders including community leaders and NGOs.“For the Tonga workshop we are inviting representatives from governments, civil society, mining companies and some experts from outside the region. This holistic approach signifies that we are serious about taking an inclusive approach to work with all stakeholders interested in deep sea minerals in the Pacific,” he says.

The Cook Islands Marine Park joins Big Ocean Our Marine Park

As part of its strategy to implement the recently established Cook Islands Marine Park – currently the largest MPA in the world – the Cook Islands’ government recently accepted the invitation to formally join Big Ocean: A Network of World’s Large-Scale Marine Managed Areas.

Upon acceptance of the network’s invitation to become a member site Prime Minster Henry Puna said, “We were honored to join the family of large scale marine managed areas and contribute to the well-being of not only our peoples, but also of humanity. We look forward to actively participating in Big Ocean.”

Sized at 1.065 million km2 (411,000 mi2), the Cook Islands Marine Park encompasses the entire southern half of the nation’s waters and was established for integrated ocean conservation and management. According to Elizabeth Wright-Koteka, Chief of Staff for Prime Minister Puna, “the goal is to have the marine park’s management framework create a balance between economic growth and conserving core biodiversity. We recognize that peer-learning through Big Ocean will be very helpful in achieving success.

Big Ocean is a network of managers and partners of existing and proposed large-scale marine managed areas. The collective aim is to improve the effectiveness of management efforts, to serve as a peer learning resource and support system, and to build the professional standards of practice for this emerging genre of marine conservation. Big Ocean also aims to share outcomes and lessons learned in order to increase understanding of the unique contributions of large-scale marine protection and how management of the ocean at such scales is changing the game of ocean governance. Collectively, Big Ocean member sites encompass 3.2 million km2 of ocean—twice the size of the Gulf of Mexico.

BIG OCEAN Committee IUCN Congress

TIS representatives at the IUCN World Conservation Congress attended a workshop with Big Ocean: A network of the World’s Large Scale Marine Managed Areas last month. Big Ocean is made up of member sites, represented by managers and partners, and provides support to other existing and proposed large-scale marine managed areas and site partners through peer-learning opportunities.

The workshop entitled “The Role of Partnerships and Size in Scaling Up Marine Protection Efforts Across the Globe,” was organized and hosted jointly by the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Big Ocean, Conservation International and the New England Aquarium.

The aim of the workshop was to use discussions to inform and guide the development of practical management guidance on large-scale marine protected areas.

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