Stop Seabed Mining

Seabed mining off the coast of Taranaki is threatening a unique marine environment and the wildlife it supports. Help us defend the ocean by making a submission.

Māui's Dolphin are just one of the species that could be affected by seabed mining off the coast of Taranaki (Photo by Steve Dawson)

Trans Tasman Resources have filed an application to mine the seabed between Taranaki, Kapiti Coast, Cook Straight, and Golden Bay.

Over the next 35 years, they want to extract up to 175 million tonnes of iron ore.

By sucking up the top 11 metres of the seabed over 65 square kilometres, they will destroy an area roughly three times the size of Rangitoto Island.

Every hour, they will remove up to 8000 tonnes of the sea floor, dumping unwanted sand back onto the sea floor to create a huge plume of sediment.

This will have a devastating and permanent effect on the ocean environment. Plants and animals living in the area will be destroyed, disrupting the complex ocean food web, and turning the whole ecosystem into a dead zone.

We're working with Kiwi's Against Seabed Mining (KASM) to stop this devastation occurring. Help us defend the ocean by making a submission

The seafloor supports a wide variety of organisms. Plants, shellfish, worms and crustaceans are a crucial link in the complex marine food web. It is certain that the plants or animals living in and around the area being excavated will be destroyed during the mining and sorting process, turning the area into a dead zone.

As well as removing up to 8000 tonnes of the sea floor each hour, the excavation dumps unwanted sand back onto the sea floor, creating huge plumes of sediment. This will have a big impact on the complex oceanic food web as primary food producers like phytoplankton and zooplankton can’t get light. This will have a knock on effect on fish and marine mammals in the area. The seafloor biology may take decades to recover.

The noise from all this activity – a massive vacuum operating nonstop for 35 years, and the supporting ships and machinery, will create persistent ocean noise, which can cause damage and disturbance to marine mammals. Whales, dolphins and porpoises rely critically on sound for navigation, foraging and communication and are affected by increasing noise levels from human activities in the ocean. Low frequency sounds are known to affect baleen whales and now also toothed whales.

32 species and 1 subspecies of whales and dolphins have been recorded in the region. Being one of the areas with the highest productivity of copepods (small swarming crustaceans) it is perhaps not surprising that the area is a calving area for pygmy right whales, the smallest of the baleen whales.

The ocean in this area is also rough. Waves over 4 metres high are routinely measured and have been known to reach over 7 metres. These are extreme conditions for vessel management and oil spills will be a real threat, yet Trans Tasman Resources’ application includes no contingency plan.

Trans Tasman Resources’ application would devastate a significant piece of New Zealand’s ocean environment, and we are submitting to stop it progressing. Join us in defending the ocean by making a submission.