Many years ago I was on a ship out on the Pacific Ocean heading to one of the islands to visit relatives.
As we got closer I thought about the old navigators who could read the ocean like I could read a book, their skill based on knowledge of the stars, sailing directions, seamarks, and how to read the waves and clouds to determine currents and predict weather. As for me, it wasn't until practically right up in the lagoon that I knew we had arrived.
The different peoples that make up our region have given rise to traditional indigenous ways of life that are unique to the region and expressed through outstanding cultural landscapes and seascapes. These customary associations with the sea form the basis of present-day social structures, tenure systems and traditional systems of stewardship governing its use.
But our oceans face threats that are growing more and more urgent every day. Overfishing, pollution and mining have taken a toll on our precious ocean ecosystems, and reduced their natural abundance to unsustainable levels and impacting the many peoples who call the Pacific home.
Deep-sea mining is the latest of these extractive industries that seek to make a profit out of the planet. Among the riches of the seabed, deeply embedded into its ecosystems, are minerals such as copper, cobalt, nickel and manganese. This potential industrial value means prospectors are keen to extract them, hence the emergence of a deep-sea
That is why it is important we support those Pacific voices who are calling for a ban on deep-sea mining in their territories. Fiji has already banned seabed mining from Fijian waters.
Unfortunately, New Zealand recently abstained on a motion supporting "protection of deep-ocean ecosystems and biodiversity through a moratorium on seabed mining" at the
International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). This failure to step up sends signals that when it comes to ocean conservation, New Zealand is all talk and no action.
The IUCN is an international organisation working in the field of nature conservation and sustainable use of natural resources. It has observer and consultative status at the United Nations and plays a role in the implementation of several international conventions on nature conservation and biodiversity.
Delegates at this year's global conservation summit also voted overwhelmingly for the reform of the International Seabed Authority, the UN-mandated body tasked with regulating this activity.
Eighty-one governments and government agencies attending the IUCN World Conservation Congress voted in favour of the moratorium, laid out in Motion 69, while 18 voted against and 28 abstained. About 577 NGOs and civil society organisations also voted in favour, while only 32 voted against and 35 abstained.
The vote managed to pass despite New Zealand and the other countries that abstained, which included the UK, Canada, the United States, Australia and France.
This also puts New Zealand offside on the position expressed within the IUCN motion that there should be a moratorium until and unless, where relevant, the free, prior and informed consent of indigenous peoples is respected, and consent from potentially affected communities is achieved.
By abstaining, New Zealand ends up being ambivalent. Instead, New Zealand should be supporting Pacific voices that are calling for a ban on seabed mining in their territories.
• Teanau Tuiono is a Green list MP based in Palmerston North.