[Radio Australia] Pacific Must Regulate Deep Sea Resources: Vaipulu

Deputy PM says islands must collaborate on laws


MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, March 13, 2013) – Tongan deputy Prime Minister Samiu Vaipulusays Pacific island nations need stronger regulations to protect their deep sea mineral resources.

Mr. Vaipulu told a Pacific-ACP States Regional Workshop on Deep Sea Minerals Law and Contract Negotiations in the Tongan capital, Nuku’alofa, that countries in the region need to develop more robust laws.

Representatives of 15 Pacific states are attending the week-long workshop.

Mr. Vaipulu told Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat program that countries like his are vulnerable to big mining companies who have experience and expertise in developing contracts.

“We need to train our people to negotiate and make legislation so that it should be a win-win situation,” he said

His warning comes as global interest in the prospects for deep sea mining in the Pacific continues to grow.

Director of the Applied Geoscience and Technology Division of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SOPAC), Mike Petterson, told local media the regional workshop would focus on developing legislation and regulations regarding deep sea minerals.

Maximising benefits

“What we want to achieve is largely capacity building,” he said.

“As like any other economic activity, Pacific states are a little bit compromised by multinational and well-resourced companies coming in.”

As more deep sea mineral resources are identified, Pacific nations need to work to maximize the benefits and minimize impacts on the environment, Mr. Petterson says.

Mr. Vaipulu says Pacific nations need to collaborate to create an effective and transparent system.

“We have to look at it as a group, not as individuals,” he said. “Because as a group we’ll be stronger.”

A deep-sea mining bill drafted in Tonga in 2012 is expected to be brought before the parliament later this year.

Radio Australia: www.abc.net.au/ra
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