Blog Entry

Civil Society of Tonga Speaks Out Against Plans to Mine the Deep Sea

Catherine Coumans

Ph.D. Research Coordinator and Asia-Pacific Program Coordinator

On June 8, International World Oceans Day, the Civil Society Forum of Tonga, a south Pacific island nation, published a strong statement in protection of their marine environment and calling for a moratorium on deep sea mining.

The statement emphasizes the “critical role” of the ocean in “sustaining our Pacific society”  and calls on the government of the Kingdom of Tonga to review its status as a “Sponsoring State” to Tonga Offshore Mining Limited (TOML), a local subsidiary of Canada’s DeepGeen Metals. This partnership gives DeepGreen access to mine deep sea nodules in the Clarion Clipperton Zone, international waters off-shore from Tonga.

The Civil Society Forum of Tonga asks their government to join the call by the Pacific island nations of Fiji and Vanuatu for a 10 year moratorium on deep sea mining in Tonga’s territorial waters and in international waters, noting:

“As the deep sea remains understudied and poorly understood, there are many gaps in our understanding of its biodiversity and ecosystems. This makes it difficult to thoroughly assess the potential impacts of deep-sea mining and to put in place adequate safeguards to protect the marine environment. The livelihood of a billion people in the world is based on the ocean including 90% of the Pacific People. The Ocean is our home and this is the essence of sustainable development.”

In May, MiningWatch Canada and the Deep Sea Mining Campaign published a report that reviews the scientific literature on mining of deep sea nodules, which take millions of years to form and host unique deep sea species. The scientific consensus is that the practice will have a serious and very long lasting impact on deep sea biodiversity and that the losses of these understudied species cannot be mitigated or offset. The report also shows the interconnected nature of the deep sea to the water column above it for species such as whales that regularly dive down to the very deep sea.

For more information contact: Catherine Coumans, [email protected]

Civil Society Forum of Tonga letter to PM on seabed mining