a moratorium on deep-sea mining • TNTV Tahiti Nui Television

The debate on the exploration (or not) of the seabed in Polynesian waters has created a stir in the chamber. In this sense, the president of the Tavini group in the Assembly of French Polynesia, Antony Géros, was virulent with France last week: “France is trying to expand its economic zone by trying to explore the continental shelves. Why? To bring in submarines and see if there aren’t any there too? Then will they say in their moratorium that we must not touch? […] Whose head are we fooling?

For the government, however, the celestial party has not always been so cautious with the great powers: “In 2013 you had less shame when you signed with the Chinese for the exploitation of our seabed“, replied the Minister of the Environment Heremoana Maamaatuaiahutapu.

The Tavini invokes the UN

Therefore, the separatists did not support the moratorium voted for by a majority of elected officials last week. This vote is part of the ideological continuity of the party, which regularly claims Polynesian sovereignty over its natural resources: “The UN took a resolution in 2016 urging the administering power, i.e. France, to recognize the sovereignty of the people of French Polynesia over all its natural resources, including undersea mineral resources.” explained Mr. Géros.

Cobalt, nickel or even manganese lying at the bottom of the oceans arouse international appetite. Its exploitation is at the heart of economic problems, but at a time when the planet is warming, elected officials fear irreversible damage to our oceans.

The possible exploitation of funds will not occur until the technical knowledge is mastered and the marine environment is not protected: “We must be able to identify if there are resources, says Teva Rohfritsch, resentful not registered in the APF. We also need to be able to better understand biodiversity, the water column, and not just talk about minerals“.

Mr. Rohfritsch invokes the precautionary principle for future generations: “they decide if they want to exploit them or not“.

(Photo credit: TNTV)

Therefore, there is no urgency to scrape the seabed of Polynesia, the emergency is on the surface. This moratorium satisfies the environmental associations, in particular FAPE and its president Winiki Sage: “When we see the damage that is on the planet, we may try to clean up what we have done to it before imagining going to exploit the seabed.“.

At the beginning of November, President Emmanuel Macron announced at COP 27 that France wanted to ban the exploitation of the seabed in international waters and, therefore, in its Pacific EEZ.

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