The NZ government has begun issuing prospecting licenses to offshore companies that allow them to analyse our black sands for seabed mining. Seabed mining is a process where sand is sucked up from the sea floor so that minerals can be extracted. The remaining sand would be dumped. All sealife in the sands would be destroyed and our food chain disrupted, causing further decline of our coastal fish numbers.
Our coast is our safety net. It provides a buffer between the sea and land, slowing down the effect of extreme weather and oceans. Removing the sand will alter the natural build up of dunes, leaving our coast exposed.
Of even greater concern is that the areas of these permits tally exactly with the only habitat of Maui's dolphins. New Zealand is the only place in the world where Maui's dolphins are found and their habitat is limited to a small area of coast. Recent estimates show that there may be as few as 80 to 120 of Maui's dolphins left. Once they are lost here they will be extinct.
Every dolphin death is significant as these dolphins have a slow breeding rate. New Zealand is beginning to recognise what a treasure we are in danger of losing and is taking steps to provide increased safety for these dolphins by banning set nets in areas of coast where the dolphin live, although there are many who believe that the ban does not extend far enough off-shore and that this distance should be increased.
We believe that prospecting in this area will further disturb the dolphin habitat and increase the rate of decline of these creatures, which could result in an unsustainable population and extinction within 10-15 years.
Therefore we ask the New Zealand government to put a stop to seabed prospecting and mining before it is too late.