Palau President Surangel Whipps Junior said he wanted the seabed mining practice temporarily suspended until at least 2030.
“The ocean for us is life. We depend on it for sustenance, we depend on it for our economy – without it, we would not be able to survive,” he said.
“Whether they’re dredging it or clawing at the bottom and the plumes that would create, how would that affect our tuna fish stocks, the sharks, the most important resources that we have?
“It’s alarming, it’s reckless. As leaders and business leaders, don’t let greed lead to what could be the worst disaster that we could face.”
Whipps Junior said he understood why some Pacific countries would want to endorse mining ventures, “but sometimes, in the haste of making money, we could lose so much more”.
“I understand the economic realities that we all face, we’re battered with COVID, hit with climate change issues and we all need financing and maybe this is our ticket to solving our economic problems,” he said.
“That’s what we’re asking – let’s take time, let’s analyse, let’s use the best scientific data to make the best decision for our climate and for our people.”
As a crucial deadline looms for a new frontier of mining in the deep Pacific Ocean, Pacific Islanders are worried the controversial practice could go ahead before proper regulations are in place.
The International Seabed Authority (ISA) will begin accepting applications for industrial-scale deep-sea mining in Pacific waters in July.