Seabed exploration will remain an option for Wallis – scientists

MATA’UTU, (RNZ PACIFIC) – French scientists visiting Wallis and Futuna say despite local rejection of more seabed exploration the question of underwater mining will remain.

Concluding an information mission to the French territory, the delegates told local television that it is up to the French state and not the scientists if exploration resumes.

They said there has been misinformation, pointing out that the territory’s seabed has no rare earths as suggested but deposits of metals such as copper and lead.

Last week, the traditional Futuna kingdoms of Sigave and Alo ruled out allowing any work related to seabed mining in their waters, saying their stance is final.

They said they had seen the negative impact of activities in French Polynesia and didn’t want a repeat of them in Wallis and Futuna.

At the beginning of this decade French teams carried out three exploratory missions in the territory’s waters without consulting the local kings who are officially recognised by the French republic.

The traditional leaders’ view of what comprises their domain clashes with the law which grants France the control of its exclusive economic zone.

Five years ago, the French Economic, Social and Environmental Council urged the government to secure resources in the seabed off France’s overseas territories.

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