In 2012 and 2014, the Department of Mineral Resources granted three rights to prospect for marine phosphate to private companies. These rights cover approximately 10% of South Africa’s marine environment.
The prospecting areas directly coincide with critically endangered ecosystems and our largest fishing grounds, including South Africa’s only Marine Stewardship Council accredited fishery. Since prospecting rights are being granted there is every indication that marine mining will become a reality.
This is of concern for a number of reasons:
- There is a complete lack of information on the impact of seabed mining on marine ecosystems.
- The technology that may potentially be used if seabed mining were to be permitted, Trailing Suction Hopper Dredge, is experimental, untested and potentially highly destructive.
- The socio-economic implications of seabed mining have not been properly assessed.
- Seabed mining would negatively impact on small-scale fishers that directly depend on healthy marine ecosystems for livelihood and indeed survival.
- South Africa does not have the legal and governance framework to appropriately and responsibly regulate and manage seabed mining.
- No other country has permitted seabed mining in its exclusive economic zone.
As a result of concerns the Centre for Environmental Rights, with its partner WWF-SA, launched the Safeguard our Seabed project, funded by WWF Nedbank Green Trust. The overall strategic intent of the Safeguard our Seabed project is to secure the long-term ecological integrity of South Africa’s offshore marine habitats through pursuing the establishment of a moratorium on bulk marine sediment mining in the short-term and the longer-term development of effective marine spatial planning mechanisms. In 2015 the Centre for Environmental Rights supported the establishment of the Safeguard our Seabed Coalition. The Coalition includes organisations that represent the interests of commercial and small scale fishing, organised labour and environmental and environmental justice organisations. The main objective of the Coalition is to pursue a moratorium, or ban, on marine phosphate mining in South Africa.
For further information visit http://cer.org.za/safeguard-our-seabed