'Don't mine the moana' say activists facing mining research vessel

“Don’t mine the moana” was the message sent to deep sea mining research vessel the James Cook after a confrontation at sea.

Activists took to the waters on board Greenpeace ship the Arctic Sunrise, to confront a deep-sea mining research vessel.

PMN news reports the ship returned from a seven-week expedition in areas across the Pacific targeted for deep sea mining.

On the intercepting ship were three New Zealanders, including Māori activist Quack Pirihi who said confronting the ship was monumental. 

“Indigenous Māori activists flying the Tino Rangatiratanga flag and challenging a ship named after a coloniser with a heartfelt message of ‘don’t mine the moana’ is a significant moment.

“We are calling out neo-colonialism in the context of deep-sea mining. We are standing for the ocean, for Pacific peoples and for indigenous peoples, and the message is clear: Deep sea mining must not begin.” ​​

The action at sea took place as world delegates debated at the International Seabed Authority (ISA) meeting in Jamaica - whether to approve the first application to mine the deep in the Pacific.

The research vessel James Cook, on its ‘Smartex Expedition’, returned to sites where previous test mining took place in 1979 to monitor long-term impacts of mining and to research how to reduce the risks as part of developing a sustainable approach to deep sea mining. 

Greenpeace says this is a 'smokescreen', and that the project forms part of the deep sea mining industry’s plan to begin mining throughout the Pacific.

“As if sending a ship to enable further destruction of our ecosystems wasn’t offensive enough, sending one named after the most notorious coloniser of the Pacific is a cruel insult to our people.” says Māori activists Quack Pirihi.

“While political tensions flare in Jamaica right now over whether to allow deep sea mining to start, commercial interests are pressing ahead at sea like it’s a done deal."

Pirihi says the opportunity to participate in these forums and the decisions made, will have a profound impact for generations to come.​

“Our people are very rarely given the opportunity to speak in these forums, and by flying our Tino Rangatiratanga flag at the ISA meeting in Jamaica and here at sea, I am connecting not only myself to this kaupapa, but the mokopuna that will come long after me."​

Aotearoa campaigner James Hita was in the waters facing the James Cook vessel, and said the moment was a time for the people of the moana to stand strong. 

“For too long, Pacific peoples have been excluded from decisions that impact our territories and waters.

“If governments don’t stop this industry from starting, a new cycle of colonial exploitation will begin. We reject a future with deep sea mining.”

More than 700 scientists from 44 countries have already opposed the industry by signing an open letter calling for a pause.

Negotiations at the ISA continue until 31 March.


Photo Greenpeace