SCRAPING THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA – by Alec Dubro (Foreign Policy in Focus – August 10, 2021)


Deep sea mining companies are not just exploiting the oceans, they’re harming the low-income nations surrounding the proposed mine sites.

On July 29, the two-day Wokisok Shark Calling Festival will begin at Kono village, New Ireland, Papua New Guinea. It’s not a new gimmick to capitalize on Shark Week or Sharknado movies—although foreign visitors are welcome. Nor do people stand on the beach and yell, Shark!

Instead it’s a seasonal rite where fishers paddle out from shore and summon sharks with noise and motion makers—and then they hope, capture them. It’s supposed to ensure shark harvests for peoples who depend in part on this source of protein. It’s actually one of many such ceremonies that take place in this area of the Pacific.

Although the Kono Village festival hadn’t been observed for years, it has been revived this year with an added fillip. It’s being held to rally the campaign to stop the relentless attempt by deep-pocketed mining investors called the Solwara 1 project to tear up the local sea bed in search of minerals.

Local groups such as the West Coast Development Foundation and the Alliance of Solwara Warriors have been battling Solwara for years, but the latest mining push in the form of a new company called DeepGreen has heightened the struggle.

Solwara is an attempt to vacuum up the mineral accretions on the nearby sea floor called hydrothermal vents or smokers. And DeepGreen and its predecessor Nautilus Minerals have plowed ahead in the absence of any meaningful control or protections. Going up against some of the world’s richest extractive industries is hard even in developed countries—and New Ireland is most definitely not developed.

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