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Resource Roulette: How Deep Sea Mining and Inadequate Regulatory Frameworks Imperil the Pacific and its Peoples

By: Blue Ocean Law, Pacific Network on Globalisation

Deep sea mining (DSM) is an imminent venture in Pacific Island (PI) countries like Papua New Guinea (PNG), Tonga, Fiji, and the Solomon Islands (SI). Despite DSM’s experimental nature and a dearth of knowledge about hydrothermal vents and deep sea ecosystems, companies are already prospecting in PI nations’ waters with an aim to begin mining as early as 2018. Model legislation being touted around the region focuses more on ensuring a clear licensing regime and conditions favorable to industry than establishing effective safeguards for PI citizens. In particular, there is a general failure to incorporate sufficient environmental protections, as well as the norm of free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC) for indigenous peoples, who are most likely to be impacted by DSM. In the 21st century, and under well-established norms of international law, these omissions represent serious violations of international legal obligations.

This study undertakes a legal and policy analysis of DSM in the Pacific region, providing an overall mapping of the legislative status of DSM in eleven PI nations and additional in-depth case study analyses of Tonga, Papua New Guinea, and Fiji. Incorporating fieldwork carried out over four months, the case studies reflect on governmental capacity to effectively monitor DSM and manage resource revenue, as well as concerns about corruption, negative impacts, and lack of consultation with local communities.

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Uploaded on: Jun 08, 2016
Year Published: 2016
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