MANY of the most damaging impacts of seabed mining will occur at the sea floor.
"In most cases, this will be too deep to directly affect Pacific Island fisheries," says Dr Malcolm Clark, the principal scientist at New Zealand's National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research.
Despite this, Dr Clark emphasised the importance of studying how mining activity could affect marine ecosystems.
"It is important to ensure that mining doesn't occur in known spawning areas or regions where small fish are abundant," he said.
"Knowledge of the nature and extent of sediment plumes generated by the seafloor mining operation must be assessed before mining starts.
"The discharge of processed water also needs to be carefully understood, and should occur deeper than the depth of fisheries and other important animals."
A workshop on the environmental impact of deep-sea mineral mining in the Pacific, hosted by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community and the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme, is in progress at the Tanoa International Hotel in Nadi.
The workshop is designed to collectively identify and assess national and regional environmental management needs and to develop a robust process for strengthened strategic planning and Environmental Impact Assessments before any deep-sea mining activities occur.
The forum ends on Friday.