The Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI), with the assistance of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC)–European Union (EU) Deep Sea Minerals Project, has commenced public consultations on deep sea minerals, with a particular emphasis on the draft national Deep Sea Minerals Policy and Seabed Management Bill, which will be submitted to the RMI cabinet in June 2015.
Government representatives, national agencies, the private sector, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), churches, members of parliament, the Council of Iroij and communities took part in the consultations, which were held in Majuro and Ebeye between 22 and 24 April 2015.
The main objective of these consultations was for the government to present the vision, goals and objectives of the draft national Deep Sea Minerals Policy and in the contents of the Seabed Management Bill.
This was also an opportune time for the government to raise awareness of the opportunities for the country to engage with the deep sea minerals industry, with the view of discussing alternative sources of revenue that will be used for the well-being of the people.
These consultations highlight the government’s commitment to ensuring public participation and transparency, and addressing the concerns of all stakeholders.
“We would like to applaud the RMI government’s effort in facilitating an open and inclusive process for its new Deep Sea Minerals Policy and Seabed Management Bill,” said the EU Ambassador for the Pacific, Andrew Jacobs.
“Dialogue and discussion on commercial exploitation of Deep Sea Minerals with a wide range of stakeholders helps build the necessary trust and understanding between different parties on a sensitive subject,” the Ambassador added.
“The involvement of all of the people of RMI, including local communities, is key in the approach followed by the government to move forward with the Deep Sea Minerals industry”, said Secretary of the Ministry of Resources and Development of RMI, Rebecca Lorennij.
“We are extremely grateful to SPC and the EU for the support and assistance provided to RMI and we want to believe that this partnership will continue and enable the Republic of the Marshall Islands to build its expertise and capacities with the view of managing and regulating this new industry for the benefit of Marshall Islands people,” the Secretary added.
The Deep Sea Minerals Project supports this broad consultation, and offers technical advice and assistance to its 15 participating Pacific countries, providing accurate information and guidance through awareness programmes and workshops at both the national and regional level, to ensure that countries have relevant information to make informed decisions.
A consultative approach is vital in the formulation of any policy or national framework, as the public’s views and concerns must be taken into account before an agreement is made.
The RMI awareness-raising meetings coincide with the development of a new series of videos the Deep Sea Minerals Project has made, to answer frequently asked questions regarding deep sea mining.
The “Q&A Videos” feature world-renowned experts in deep sea mining, and are specifically designed to increase the public’s understanding of deep sea mining activities in the Pacific region.
The first Q&A Video features Cindy Van Dover, a professor of Biological Oceanography at Duke University in the United States and an expert on deep ocean exploration, who answers questions such as: What kind of organisms lives near deep sea vents? Why is it important to learn about these organisms? Why should scientists be involved in commercial mining activities? and What can be done to minimise the impacts of mining?
The video shows underwater footage from seafloor massive sulphide sites bringing to life the surrounding environment, and is available on the Deep Sea Minerals Project’s website: http://gsd.spc.int/dsm/index.php/q-a.
Media Contact: Marie Bourrel, Deep Sea Minerals Project Legal Advisor, [email protected] or +679 324 9292