25 May, 2023


By Phil McCabe, DSCC Pacific Regional Lead – Deep Sea Mining

The New Zealand Government initiated an inquiry into seabed mining within its jurisdictional waters earlier this month, signalling a change to domestic regulatory settings. This change would be more in line with New Zealand’s international position of a ‘conditional moratorium’, which was championed last October by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nanaia Mahuta.

The inquiry responds to Te Pāti Māori co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer’s bill seeking to ban seabed mining in New Zealand’s waters and mounting pressure from environmental groups Kiwis Against Seabed Mining, Greenpeace Aotearoa and the wider community. The government chose not to support the bill to ban, citing concerns on the bill’s wording. However, instead initiated its own inquiry into the nascent and controversial industry.

The upset felt and expressed by Ngarewa-Packer, her Iwi Ngāti Ruanui and Ngā Rauru and the thousands of coastal residents and ocean lovers who have been battling seabed mining proposals for over a decade through relentless, gruelling legal battles at great expense, is warranted. I feel it too. Three EPA hearings, five court cases. Enough’s enough! 

Ngāti Ruanui, Parliament grounds, Wellington, May 10, 2023

The information to back the call for a ban is available in screeds. If the inquiry weighs it objectively, a ban is the only tenable outcome.  

The Government’s move has been widely seen as a dodge and delay tactic. Given the timing between recent and upcoming events, there is most definitely politicking at play. Whatever the reason for the Labour-led Government not supporting the bill, the fact is that a ban on seabed mining is now a live issue within the New Zealand Parliament. And that is new territory.

The Environment Select Committee inquiry will play out over the upcoming months, likely completed before this Parliament closes for the general election in October. Also this month, an EPA hearing process will recommence on Trans Tasman Resources’ application to mine the seabed of the South Taranaki Bight, which was approved by the EPA in 2017 and quashed by three courts, ultimately being sent back to the EPA for reconsideration by the Supreme Court. 

Drawing back to the Pacific regional and global viewpoints, the issue of deep-sea mining is highly topical, sensitive and fast moving. With three extensive EPA hearing processes and ensueing court cases since 2013, Aotearoa New Zealand has scrutinised the activity more so than any other jurisdiction on Earth. Therefore New Zealand has an important role to play in these wider contexts. The last decade in New Zealand has been a cautionary forerunner to what is currently playing out elsewhere and perhaps the Government has eyed its moral obligation to share the country’s experience and findings with their closest neighbours and the wider world as they grapple with the complex environmental, economic and social implications of seabed mining. And perhaps the New Zealand Government can feel the warm glow of opportunity that lies within that journey. 

27 October, 2022


For immediate release 27.10.22

Just days before the International Seabed Authority meets in Jamaica, seeking to continue the rush to mine the deep, New Zealand joins the growing wave of concern, declaring its support for a moratorium on the risky industry.

The Deep Sea Conservation Coalition (DSCC) welcomed the news from New Zealand, with Phil McCabe, Pacific Lead for the Coalition commenting: “We applaud Aotearoa New Zealand for taking a position that reflects the values of New Zealanders and ocean people everywhere. This call echoes our domestic experience as well, where seabed mining has been shown to be environmentally, socially and legally unacceptable. New Zealand now joins others taking a leadership role internationally to defend our shared ocean from destructive deep-sea mining.” 

Continue reading New Zealand call for a moratorium on destructive deep-sea mining in international waters

29 September, 2022

By Karli Thomas, Deep Sea Conservation Coalition Aotearoa

New Zealand is the only country still bottom trawling in the South Pacific, and last season just a single vessel was trawling in international waters, catching 20 tonnes of orange roughy. Meanwhile, a prosecution got underway yesterday of a New Zealand vessel that destroyed deep sea coral in the South Pacific in 2020.  

Continue reading New Zealand’s bottom trawling isolation continues in the South Pacific

23 September, 2022



The European Union has agreed new measures to protect seamounts from bottom trawling, showing up the New Zealand government’s inaction on the issue, environment groups said today. 

Meanwhile, a NIWA study released this week has revealed that there are 1,996 seamounts and features in New Zealand waters. A proposal is being pushed by industry that only recognises 7% of these seamounts, and would leave all the areas they currently  trawl unprotected.

Continue reading EU protects deep sea life from bottom trawling, as new science shows up NZ industry proposal 

13 May, 2022

On May 12th the Environment and Conservation Organisations of New Zealand (ECO) co-hosted a webinar with Kiwis Against Seabed Mining (KASM), LegaSea, Greenpeace Aotearoa, and the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition.

The webinar on “Seabed mining: The threat on our doorstep” delved into the history of seabed mining in New Zealand, the communities opposing seabed mining proposals, the threats and how we can all take action.

Debbie Ngarewa-Packer, co-leader of the Māori Party, said: “Throughout this battle we have had our cultural concerns ignored… and this is the battle for a lot of indigenous people. It has been a really hard battle to have governments and courts recognise the rights of indigenous people.”

Catch up on the webinar here