Some of the participants at the first Seabed Mining Policy draft consultation at the Chief Nakamal in Port Vila, October, 2014

By Jonas Cullwick

The Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) based in Noumea, New Caledonia is finalizing a documentary it is putting together to show Vanuatu’s consultative process on the “hot” topic of Deep Sea Mining (DSM).

The interest by the Government to look into increasing economic benefit from deep sea mining is a sensitive topic that has divided many in the country into the supporters and those fierce opposed to the idea.

With this increasing interest and a fierce opposition in the forefront, the Government of Vanuatu through the Department of Geology and Mines Unit has decided to undertake a consultative process with all stakeholders as the way to arriving at a decision in regards to DSM.

This consultation process started in early October 2014, when the Malvatumauri council of chiefs, members of Parliament, and NGO representatives participated to express their views, and it is planned to continue this consultation process at the community level starting at the end of April this year.

Like Vanuatu, others countries of the region also are keep to maximum returns from their seabed resources, including near neighbors Fiji, Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea. All these countries have taken different approaches to decide whether or not to harvest ocean floor resources. Vanuatu has taken the consultation process and this has caught the interest of the SPC who sent a team to start production work for the documentary on Vanuatu’s approach.

Acting Commissioner of Mines Brooks Rakau says that the team interviewed people having the whole spectrum of views on the subject from supporters to those deeply opposed to DSM, such as the majority of the women of Vanuatu.

Rakau says SPC has sent them the draft of the documentary and they have commented on the production and sent it back for finalization. Once it is released, the documentary will be released to the public and will assist with the ongoing consultation work on the Seabed Mining Policy draft and hopefully to answer ultimate question of whether or not to mine the seabed of the country.

Jonas Cullwick, a former General Manager of VBTC is now a Senior Journalist with the Daily Post. Contact: Cell # 678 5460922

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