Nadi, Fiji – The workshop was organised by the EU-funded, SPC Deep Sea Minerals (DSM) Project.
Participants included Government officials, primarily from Ministries of 13 island countries associated with minerals, natural resources, environment and fisheries, as well as representatives from regional civil society groups. These included the Pacific Islands Association of NGOs (PIANGO), Ipukarea Society (TIS) and the Civil Society Forum of Tonga (CSFT).
Scientists from the United States, Korea, Australia, Belgium, New Zealand, SPREP and SPC were also in attendance.
[L-R: Dr. Jim Hein from the U.S. Geological Survey and workshop facilitator, Deep Sea Mineral Project Tem Leader Akuila Tawake]
Dr Russell Howorth, the Director of the SOPAC Division of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) said that the workshop played an important role in providing participants with a better understanding of deep-sea environments, the nature of those seabed mineral deposits and the biological communities associated with them.
‘The protection of the ocean environment and the preservation of rare and fragile ecosystems and ocean habitats must be balanced against the emerging new economic opportunity presented for Pacific Island countries by exploring for deep sea minerals and their possible future exploitation,’ said Dr Howorth. ‘The precautionary approach must prevail particularly in the exploration and potential exploitation of seabed mineral deposits.’
As well as the use of SPC’s in-house capacity to conduct the workshop, a number of world renowned experts were called on to assist, including Dr. Jim Hien from the United States Geological Survey, Professor Chuck Fisher from Penn State University, and Dr. Malcolm Clark a senior scientist with the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) in New Zealand.
Mr. Darryl Thorburn Natural Resources Advisor with the Cook Islands Ministry of Marine Resources spoke for many of the delegates when he said, ‘Well done for putting on such an excellent workshop. Truly this is one of the most interesting and informative workshops that I have ever attended.’
Workshop facilitator and Deep Sea Mineral (DSM) Project Team Leader, Mr Akuila Tawake said that the workshop achieved its goal in providing information to help Pacific ACP (African-Caribbean-Pacific Group of States) States make better informed decisions about deep sea minerals and mining.
Mr Tawake said that the need to develop and implement a training programme had become apparent after wide consultation with the stakeholders in the Pacific, and the recent training workshop is the first of four that are part of the capacity building component of the SPC-EU DSM Project.
‘Three more training workshops on social impacts, legal frameworks, policy and legislation, fiscal policy and revenue management, are planned to take place over the next 18 months,’ said Mr Tawake.
The workshops are part of the technical assistance provided to the 15 Pacific-ACP States of Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Timor Leste, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.