A CALL has been made to put an immediate stop to experimental seabed mining in the Pacific until proper research has been conducted into the negative impacts of the industry.
The concern was raised by the Pacific Conference of Churches at the end of its 10th General Assembly in Honiara, Solomon Islands.
It said this form of mining did not have enough research about potential harm it could cause to surrounding ocean environments.
"At its (the PCC) 10th General Assembly in Honiara, the Solomon Islands, delegates said seabed mining was a matter of growing concern in the region," the statement read. It said until enough research had been put into the negative impacts of the industry, it should not be explored.
PCC also revealed that over the next five years, it would conduct regional advocacy work to create a greater understanding of the long and short term effects of seabed mining.
It would also act on behalf of member countries to advocate at the relevant global levels including the International Seabed Authority.
Meanwhile, a workshop on "Law and Contract Negotiations for Deep Sea Minerals" commences today in Tonga, hosted by the Secretariat for the Pacific Community -— European Union (SPC-EU) Pacific Deep Sea Minerals Project.
Legal adviser for the project Hannah Lily said in a statement that it was important for countries to put in place strict laws and regulatory mechanisms to manage deep sea minerals before any negotiations took place.
"We strongly recommend that countries have these mechanisms in place before any individual project negotiations commence.
"Dedicated seabed minerals legislation will assist the country to meet its obligations under international law, such as the protection of the marine environment," Ms Lily said.
The workshop ends on Friday.