This Blog is dedicated to Taranaki resistance the Application for seismic surveying off the Taranaki coast and is shared to support our relations from Te Korowai o Ngāruahine Trust and Ngā Tai o Mākiri Trust.
E ngā pari karangatanga maha mai i Parininihi ki Taipake, tēnā ko tātou, Taranaki nui tonu!
To all Taranaki iwi, whānau, hapū, Māori organisations and networks, we look to you to support an urgent call for this new government to end fossil fuel expansion, and start the future of Aotearoa as a zero carbon economy.
This Summer, the entire Taranaki coastline could be beset upon by the ‘Amazon Warrior’ the world’s largest seismic survey vessel set to sail this week, to begin seismic blasting 19,000 square kilometres of Taranaki moana.
They blast every 10seconds, every hour, 24hrs for months, towing air cannons and seismic arrays kilometres long, in the hunt for oil up to 4km deep in the seabed.
The previous government permitted this area prior to the world famous discovery of a blue whale habitat, and the permit area allows the blasting to within a couple of kilometre’s of the foreshore.
This seismic survey is a direct result of the the Foreshore and Seabed Act unanimously opposed by iwi Māori.
As we face the climate change emergency all over the world, the threats to our whānau, our culture and all future generations increase with every new fossil fuel exploration permit. We already feel the effects as the temperature rises; severe droughts causing wildfires, storms causing severe floods, sea level rise and erosion concerning coastal marae and communities.
Burning fossil fuels lies at the heart of this threat, and we know the whole world is preparing to transition away from oil, gas and coal to support new forms of sustainable energy as a matter of urgency.
In the past 9 years, the previous government developed an aggressive fossil fuel expansion programme. Many iwi, hapū and whānau Māori have been at the forefront of efforts to move beyond fossil fuels, we have celebrated successfully turning away oil companies in the waters of Te Whānau ā Apanui, Kaikoura, Te Taitokerau, Te Ikaroa/Rāwhiti and acknowledge all those working tirelessly on the ground in Taranaki to oppose intensified oil & gas exploration.
Now our new government needs us, Taranaki nui tonu, Taranaki iwi whānui, to provide the light onto a new pathway, to turn the Amazon Warrior around and begin the fossil fuel free future.
Public opposition is what gave our political leaders the courage and mandate to declare a nuclear free Aotearoa/New Zealand. We stopped nuclear warships despite tremendous odds, it’s now time we stop the Amazon Warrior. It is our time to declare Aotearoa Seas Oil Free.
Nei ngā mihi nui, mihi roa, mihi maioha,
nā mātou, Ngā Tai o Mākiri – Protecting our future
Ngā Tai o Mākiri is a new alliance of mokopuna of Taranaki Mounga who respectful acknowledge the struggle of all Taranaki kaumātua and their communities, through decades and generations to protect our tribal rivers and seas from dairy farming and oil drilling.
Ngā Tai o Mākiri references our tribal customary fishing and seafood gathering months from November to March. We note that this Summer, November to March is when we anticipate the assault will be sustained on our seas by the ‘Amazon Warrior’ seismic surveying.
The Following is the submission to NZPAM by Te Korowai o Ngaaruahine Trust.
Ngā Tai o Mākiri launched this petition : https://www.toko.org.nz/petitions/halt-seismic-testing-of-taranaki-coast
PROSPECTING PERMIT APPLICATION, 60409 – OPERATOR: SCHLUMBERGER NEW ZEALAND
Thank you for providing Te Korowai o Ngāruahine Trust (TKONT) the opportunity to provide a submission on the prospecting permit application from Schlumberger New Zealand.
TKONT is opposed to this application because the proposed area is a recognised area of ecological importance, the activity will prejudice our commercial and customary fishing interests, will impact our current Takutai Moana claim, and will have an adverse effect on, not only marine mammals, but the whole eco-chain environment of the sea.
TKONT’s interest in this application stems from Ngāruahine iwi having a special cultural, spiritual, historical and traditional association with the area within which the activities take place. TKONT, as the post-settlement governance entity for Ngāruahine has a responsibility to ensure that the interests of Ngāruahine are safe-guarded. This includes considering the extent to which the proposed activities, may impact (potential or actual) on the environmental, cultural and spiritual interests of Ngāruahine within its’ rohe (tribal area); and those areas under statutory acknowledgement and/or Deed of Recognition (Ngāruahine Claims Settlement Act 2016); and the potential or actual risks to the physical, psychological, cultural and spiritual wellness of Ngāruahine (Te Korowai o Ngāruahine Trust Deed). Therefore, TKONT makes submissions to any applications within its rohe and that are relevant to its people and its role as kaitiaki. This does not prevent the affected Ngāruahine hāpu submitting on their behalf, nor should it be in any way viewed as affecting the mana motuhake of the hapū.
The application to undertake one of the largest ever offshore surveys for oil across 19,000 kilometres of the Taranaki basin will have devastating effects on our marine ecology, commercial fishing and customary fishing. This comes at a time when, more than ever we must consider the environmental impacts of these avoidable actions and how we can shift away from the preoccupation with fossil fuels. The seismic testing emits a blast gun at a sound level of 180 – 220db – every ten seconds bouncing into the seabed. This action will continue for two and a half months, 24 hours a day. This is louder than a rock concert and a jet engine. The effects of seismic testing are far reaching, and there is evidence that shows its adverse effect on the migratory pathways for mammals and fish and the destruction and malformation of marine lavae, which ultimately affects fish stocks for commercial and customary fishing. There are also extensive biological impacts on invertebrate shell fish that become stressed and disorientated by the noise, which affects their ability to feed, breed and escape predators. are stressed and cannot easily escape predators. When the marine environment is affected the mauri/life force of the waters are negatively impacted.
There also remain questions about the extent to which oil and gas exploration cause earthquakes, so in the face of this uncertainty it goes against logic to allow seismic testing that would encourage an activity that is yet to be proven unequivocally safe. In addition, we are concerned about having the world’s largest seismic vehicle in our waters undertaking deep sea prospecting and our ability to avert an environmental disaster in the event of a spill.
As one of the kaitiaki of the area Ngāruahine along with our whanaunga iwi: Taranaki , Ngāti Ruanui, Ngā Rauru and Te Ātiawa (along with other statutory agencies and bodies) we have an obligation to protect the integrity of the South Taranaki coastline (within our rohe), taonga species, mahinga kai habitats, fishing grounds and other native habitats. We believe this responsibility alone is sufficient to exclude the proposed areas. However, we also remind the Department that the South Taranaki Blight has the status of an Area of Ecological Importance, and as such seismic testing should not be a permitted activity. And, we advise some of the proposed area is within Ngāruahine’s current proceedings under the Marine and Coastal Area Takutai Moana Act 2011. There is clearly a very strong case to not allow this seismic testing application to proceed.
MĀORI RELATIONSHIP TO THE MARINE ENVIRONMENT
Māori have a special relationship with the marine environment; a relationship that cannot be delineated by boundary’s between commercial operations. The ocean is a cultural site of significance for iwi, and Māori take seriously their role as kaitiaki of the sea. It is difficult for Māori to protect the māuri of the wai, without their rights being sufficiently respected, acknowledged and responded to as part of the regulatory processes. TKONT therefore urge NZPAM to recognise the significance that Māori give to the marine environment as a whole, and to consider the cumulative effects that each single operation has to the integrity to our marine environment. This cumulative impact is particularly important in Taranaki where our region is subject to the most intensive oil and gas exploration in the country and every new permit adds pressure to eco-systems and environments that are already subject high levels of impacts that are frequently assessed as “negligible”, “minor”, “un-noticeable” or “uncertain” due to the paucity of pre-exploration data.
TKONT’s cultural values are impacted in many ways. These are summarised in the following sections.
As part of the Māori creation story, Ranginui (Sky Father) and Papatūānuku (Earth Mother) were separated by their children Tāne Mahuta (Tāne of the Forest) and his many siblings. As a result of this act, ngā roimata a Ranginui (the tears of Ranginui or rain) fell upon the earth, as the eternal expression of his grief and love for Papatūānuku. These feelings were reciprocated by Papatūānuku through the rising emotion back to Ranginui through mists and fog. For this reason, in some accounts, rain is considered tapu (sacred or pure state), only becoming wai Māori once it touches the ground. Te mana o te wai (the mana of water) then, stems largely from its direct association with these archetypal figures of Ranginui and Papatūānuku. However, upon reaching the earth, the tapu and therefore the mana of water changes as it interacts or is affected by other materials, substances or elements. From a te Ao Māori view, the greater the change of wai Māori and wai moana from its original tapu state, the more affected its mana, and therefore its efficacy, particularly in maintaining and sustaining a quality of life not just for iwi Māori, but all peoples living in Aotearoa-New Zealand. The seismic interference has a negative impact on the mana and efficacy of the waters to performs its natural functions.
In some schools of Māori thought, for some “thing” (physical object), one (individual), group (whānau, hapū, iwi, hapori) or system (ecosystem) to have mana, it must, as a pre- requisite, have mauri. Mauri is often described as the essential quality and vitality of something, one or system. The wiriwiri (quivering hand) for example, often seen performed by members of a rōpū kapa haka Māori, indicates that one is fully present in the moment – physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually – for all intents and purpose it is a state of mauri ora, being fully alive. The same phenomena can also be observed for all water. From a te Ao Māori view, the mauri of wai māori and wai moana can be assessed as follows:
a) Sight: colour and flow of the water, presence of objects, materials, silt, etc., foaming, presence of aquatic and plant and animal life;
b) Sound:sound of crashing waves,water rushing over sand and rocks,hum of insect life, cries and warbling of bird song;
c) Taste: taste and texture of the water;
d) Touch:the viscosity,temperature and strength of water flows;and
e) Smell: flinty odour of rocky rivers, rich earthy odours of riverbank and riparian environments.
Coupled with a body of knowledge built upon centuries of observation, working with, harvesting from, and caring for the sea, assessing the mauri of a natural resource was critical to the wellness and well-being of whānau and hapū. Without such a knowledge based on an intimate understanding of mauri, the survival of whānau, hapū and iwi would always have been in doubt.
These criteria combined with a body of knowledge developed over hundreds of years, continues to inform uri, whānau and hapū of the vitality, the health, the mauri of wai māori and the moana. The seismic testing obstructs and impedes the life force of the waters, and thus the health of all.
Whakapapa (genealogy) is the tracing of one’s genealogical descent from primordial times to the present. It establishes ones biological and kinship credentials, ones affiliation to others, and ones connection to place, both spiritually and physically. Whakapapa forms an important basis for the organisation, transmission and creation of new knowledge, through a sequential ordering of the creation of the universe. In doing, so whakapapa enables connections and inter-relationships to be made between the physical, social and spiritual spheres, the past, present and future.
More importantly however, it is through whakapapa, that iwi Māori understand, acknowledge and share an intimate relationship with wai māori and the moana. That relationship is based on a body of knowledge, which clearly illustrates how iwi Māori whakapapa to every aspect, manifestation and phenomena of the natural world, including wai māori and the moana. It is also on the basis of this relationship that, over the centuries, an environmental ethic unique to Aotearoa has developed, that of Kaitiakitanga.
Kaitiakitanga is a culturally based environmental ethic, which obliges tangata whenua to protect, use and sustainably manage resources from the natural environment. This approach is informed by centuries of observation, and knowledge and familiarity of the environment around us.
That knowledge and experience also informs the kawa (protocols), tikanga (processes) and ture (rules) developed to ensure the mauri of the natural world is maintained. While interrupted by colonisation, and the subsequent impacts of land loss and access to traditional mahinga kai, this body of knowledge and associated traditional practices are still exercised today by Ngāruahine uri.
Kaitiakitanga then, is our way of acknowledging the aroha the whenua, ngā awa and the moana show towards us, through the selfless provision of kai and resources. It also acknowledges the extent to which the mana of the whenua, wai māori and moana has indelibly influenced Te Ao Māori – the values, concepts, philosophies, language, processes and practices.
And this is why we are deeply concerned about the Schlumberger application. With every prospecting application the abundance and quality of our marine kai is compromised and the quality of our marine environment is affected. Each time the Government grants a permit that is invasive, and unrestrained, it lessens our mana, seeks to weaken and break our whakapapa to the sea, it affects the extent to which we can meet our obligations to Tangaroa, further harms our cultural identity, and reduces the mauri of our environment, which affects us all. For these real and valid cultural reasons, this application cannot be allowed to proceed.
Ngāruahine hapū have an indelible relationship between the land and the sea and the domain of Tangaroa extends to the awa with which the Ngāruahine associate to the peak of Mounga Taranaki. The brief narratives introduce the connection that each of the hapā have to the whenua and awa within the rohe, and the origins from the arriving waka.
IMPORTANCE AND CONNECTION TO NGĀ HAPŪ O NGĀRUAHINE
The people of Kanihi-Umutahi are the descendants of the tangata whenua tribes who landed at Te Rangatapu on the Te Rangiuamutu waka, captained by Tamatea-Rokai. The tangata whenua tribes were known as Te Kahui-Maunga, Te Kahui-Toka, Te Kahui-Rere, Te Kahui-Tuu, Te Maru-Iwi and Te Tini-o-Tai-Tawaro, Te -ahui-Ruu Te-Kahui-Po and Te- Kahui-Tawake. This hapū also claims ancestry from the Aotea Utanganui waka which was captained by Turi-te-Ariki-nui. During the fourteenth century, Turi, with his wife Rongorongo and their people, travelled south along the coast naming many places on their journey including the Waingongoro River. The eponymous tūpuna of the Kanihi- Umutahi HapŪ is the warrior chief Puawhato. The Kanihi-Umutahi people have historically resided on both the western and eastern banks of the Waingongoro River. The ancient Pā, Kanihi is located on the eastern bank of the river on a block of land known as Te Rua o Te Moko.
Okahu-Inuawai are the descendants of the tangata whenua tribes who landed at Te Rangatapu on the Te Rangiuamutu waka, captained by Tamatea-Rokai. The tangata whenua tribes were known as Te Kahui-Maunga, Te Kahui-Toka, Te Kahui-Rere, Te Kahui- Tuu, Te Maru-Iwi and Te Tini-o-Tai-Tawaro, Te -ahui-Ruu Te-Kahui-Po and Te-Kahui- Tawake. This hapū alsoclaimsancestryfromthe Aotea Utanganui waka which was captained by Turi-te-Ariki-nui. During the fourteenth century, Turi, with his wife Rongorongo and their people, travelled south along the coast naming many places as they went including the Waingongoro River. The eponymous tūpuna of the Okahu- Inuawai Hapū is Hinekoropanga. She was an important kuia not only to her hapū but she played a significant role within Ngaruahine as a whole. Her brother was Puawhato the warrior chief and tūpuna of the Kanihi-Umutahi people. Both sister and brother resided on the Waingongoro River, their pā being adjacent to one another. Okahutiti became an important Pā during the intertribal skirmishes with northern iwi. The Okahu-Inuawai Hapū has historically resided on the western and eastern banks of the Waingongoro River.
Ngāti Manuhiakai also claims ancestry from the Aotea Utanganui waka which was captained by Turi-te-Ariki-nui. During the fourteenth century, Turi, with his wife Rongorongo and their people, travelled south along the coast naming many places as they went including the Waingongoro River. Ngateko on the Kapuni stream is one of the original landing places of the Wakaringaringa waka, captained by Mawakeroa, the other being Kaupokonui. Many of the people on that waka took up settlement here. The Kapuni stream marks the boundary between the takiwa of Ngāti Manuhiakai and Ngāti Tu Hapū. The takiwā of the Ngāti Manuhiakai extends from the tip of Maunga Taranaki into Te Moana O Tangaroa taking in Te Rere o Kapuni and Inaha Rivers. From east to west, the boundary extends from the western banks of the Waingongoro River to the eastern banks of the Raoa Stream.
Ngāti Tu also claim ancestry from the Aotea Utanganui waka which was captained by Turi- te-Ariki-nui. During the fourteenth century, Turi, with his wife Rongorongo and their people, travelled south along the coast naming many places as they went including the Kaupokonui River and Maraekura. The name of the flat lands adjacent to the Kaupokonui River and lying between Pukekohe Pa and the Taoratai kainga is Maraekura, the ‘courtyard of the precious heirloom Huna-kiko’. Turi had brought this with him from Hawaiki-Rangiatea. This cloak was used for ceremonial purposes on multiple occasions during Turi and his people’s time in Taranaki. During one of these occasions Mareakura was named. According to sources Turi and his companions who included his son Turangaimua, and the tohunga Tapo, Kauika, Tuau, Hau-pipi, and Rakeiora, constructed an altar on Maraekura and spread the cloak upon it. The name therefore refers to this ceremony and the spreading of this ‘precious heirloom’ which represented the mana of Turi. Ngateko on the Kapuni Stream was one of the original landing places of the Wakaringaringa waka captained by Mawakeroa, the other being Kaupokonui. Many of the people on that waka took up settlement there with the Kapuni stream acting as a marker between for the boundary between the takiwā of NGĀTI MANUHIAKAI AND NGāTI TU HAPŪ.
Ngāti Haua claim ancestry from the Aotea Utanganui waka, captained by Turi-te-Ariki-nui. Aotea Utanganui set off from Hawaiki and travelled via Rangitahau (Kermadec Islands) and Tamaki before landing at the Aotea harbour. During the fourteenth century, Turi, with his wife Rongorongo and their people, travelled south along the coast naming many places as they went including the Raoa River. This hapū traces their origin to the union between the tupuna of Ngāti Haua, Te Auroa, and Hinengakau, the great ancestress of Atihaunui-a-Parangi from Whanganui. According to traditional history, Te Auroa met Hinengakau during a journey he undertook south to visit his kinfolk. Hinengakau was at the Whanganui River with her father when Te Auroa arrived there, and observed him as he dove into the Whanganui River and swam across. She was greatly impressed and asked her father to seek his hand in marriage which he solemnly did. The couple had twins, Ngāti Haua Roa and Ngāti Haua Piko, from whom Ngāti Haua derive their name. The Ngāti Haua hapū claim that their tuturu rohe extends seaward from the mouth of the Otakeho Stream following it inland to the Maunga, thence turning and following the eastern side of the Raoa Stream back to seaward, Tawhiti-nui, Hawaiki-nui, Tawhiti-roa, Hawaiki-roa, Tawhiti-pamamao, Hawaiki-pamamao. They claim that their whanaungatanga rohe extends from the western side of the Kaupokonui River of the Ngāti Tū hapū, to the eastern side of the Wahamoko Stream.
Ngāti Tamaahuroa-Titahi are the descendants of the tangata whenua tribes who landed at Te Rangatapu on the Te Rangiuamutu waka, captained by Tamatea-Rokai. The tangata whenua tribes were known as Te Kahui-Maunga, Te Kahui-Toka, Te Kahui-Rere, Te Kahui- Tuu, Te Maru-Iwi and Te Tini-o-Tai-Tawaro, Te -ahui-Ruu Te-Kahui-Po and Te-Kahui- Tawake. Ngāti Tamaahuroa-Titahi share common ancestry with Taranaki Iwi. The eponymous ancestor Rua Taranaki originated from Taupō but re-settled on the Hangaataahua River, and was the first in a long line of Taranaki rangatira. Ngāti Tamaahuroa-Titahi also claim ancestry from the Aotea Utanganui waka which was captained by Turi. The Ngati Tamaahuroa-Titahi Hapū claim that their takiwā extends from the mouth of the Taungatara Stream in the west to the mouth of the Raoa stream in the east, and thence from the moana to the Maunga. The Ngāti-Tamaahuroa-Titahi Hapū are descendants of the people who landed at Oeo on the waka captained by Whiro in the fourteenth century. The various awa that are located within the takiwa of Ngāti Tamaahuroa-Titahi have great spiritual importance and are “the blood and veins of the takutaimoana, each of them with a story to tell.” The wai that flows through these awa symbolises the link between the past and the present.
LINK TO TREATY SETTLEMENTS
Ngāruahine Treaty Settlement Act was signed in December 2016. New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals are strongly encouraged to read the settlement documentation as a basis to understand the important cultural connection that we have to the land and waters in and around our rohe.
TKONT also highlights the 2011 WAI796 Petroleum report, and urges the Department to re-familiarise itself with the matters raised in the inquiry. Substantially the inquiry concluded that the substance of the law is biased against Māori, a statement we would affirm in this submission. The inquiry also stated that the processes for engagement are not sufficient and sometimes not genuine, and the resources required meaningfully engage in relationships are not equally held by Māori and the petroleum companies. The result is a limited power for Māori to effectively protect the environment for which it has kaitiaki, protection that serves to benefit all New Zealanders. We do not consider the processes to have adjusted sufficiently in the period since the report was released as to negate its findings. Indeed the regulatory regime feels more permissive and invasive than ever before.
Takutai Moana is another important consideration that must be taken into account as part of the decision making process. The coastal area (which includes the abutting land) is, as already stated culturally significant to us. It provides a sources of food, materials for production, places to live, to celebrate; they are places of sustenance and life. The tauranga waka (canoe launching sites) along the coastline represent landing sites of considerable historical, cultural and spiritual significance, and we must be attentive to how the activities and practices within our coastal area can compromise not only the mauri of moana, but also the adjacent land and waters.
TKONT has an application pending with the Crown in respect of our customary rights within the Common Marine and Coastal Area, under the authority of the Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Act 2011. A further exploitation of the area available for prospecting and ultimately exploration impacts on the customary rights of the iwi, and our ability to protect these interests. TKONT asserts that the continued mineral prospecting and exploration that takes places around off-shore Taranaki impacts on our ability to undertake customary activities and practices. The application to seismically survey this area is incongruent with the current Takutai Maona claim and should therefore not be permitted.
IMPACTS OF SEISMIC TESTING
Existing literature is clear that our understanding about the effects of seismic testing is still developing, research is still in its infancy and there is a paucity in the current research (Hawkins, Pembroke, & Popper, 2015). This is perhaps in part, because the research data is held by the commercial organisations who secure the permits to prospect and explore and it is therefore not in their interests to gather and share data that may prejudice their commercial operations. If there is such certainty that the activity causes no adverse effects, why is there not unequivocal data to show this? Whilst there is a limitation with the available research, there is still sufficient evidence to assert that the precautionary principle be adopted and the permit not be approved.
At present research data has largely focussed on the auditory effects on marine mammals, although there is increasing research about fish and to a lesser degree invertebrates. In regards to the lower order species a recent study by McCauley et al (2017) states that it is not possible to fully understand the effects that seismic surveying has on higher order species if there is an absence of data about the effects on the lower order species. What the research is telling us however is that there are effects on marine life – effects that prejudice our cultural, customary and commercial interests. Before continuing with this submission, it is important to assert this point, because the basis of the permitted status is that the applicant will comply with the Seismic Surveys Code of Conduct (2012), and this is simply not sufficient to safeguard our cultural and commercial rights, nor the marine environment. Alteration to acoustic communication and marine life behaviour
Many marine organisms depend on the interpretation of acoustic information of their surrounding environment for their survival; noise pollution can affect marine organisms’ acoustic communication through auditory and through physiological damage of hearing systems (Peng, Zhao, & Liu, 2015). Sounds from seismic surveys are intense and research has found that blue whales called consistently more when seismic exploration took place compared to non-exploration days (Di Iorio & Clark, 2010). This increase calling was observed for the discrete, audible calls that are emitted during social encounters and feeding. The researchers proposed that the increased calls represented a compensatory behaviour to the elevated ambient noise from seismic survey operations. Clearly the noise from the surveying produces an adverse behavioural reaction towards the mammals.
At least 800 species of fish hear and produce sounds, either while fighting or competing for food or when courting or spawning (Welch, 2011), and the increased volumes in the sea has been reported to have adverse physiological effects on marine life; effects that will result in different behavioural responses and patterns. Welch’s research highlighted that the effects of the noise varies among species, but like mammals, one visible effect was the increased auditory masking or calling to compensate. A study of cuttlefish, squid and octopus that were exposed to low frequency noise found that the animals developed physiological effects, lesions in nerve fibres within their sensory systems. The researcher noted, “What was surprising was just how massive the trauma was, and at small levels of exposure…It was the first evidence of significant harm to an invertebrate species that plays a key role in the ocean food chain” (Welch, 2011). More recent research has also presented the behavioural changes in fish species – a change in swimming patterns, swim locations (moving to the bottom of the water column), swimming in tighter groups, heightened startle responses and behaviours that increased their vulnerability to predators (Peng et al., 2015). Some research has stated that effects are temporary in nature, but as noted by Nowacek et al. (2013) scientific understanding of the prevalence and implications of these effects is limited – the precautionary principle must therefore be applied. These findings represent a snapshot of available data. TKONT strongly asserts that these findings should not be ignored, and even if they are is refuted, this should take place via the undertaking of additional independent research. At this stage NZPAM may argue that the substance of our objection is environmental, which is beyond the decision making scope, however these physical and behavioural changes affect the abundance, quality and health of our fish species.
EFFECTS ON MARINE LARVAE DEVELOPMENT
The study by De Soto et al. (2013) considered if noise exposure during larval development can cause body malformations in marine fauna. The study found high proportions of malformed larvae where they was an exposure to noise. Developmental delay emerged after 24 hours of noise exposure. The authors asserted, “The experiment provides a robust indication of the potential consequences of high level sound exposure during larval development. This is, to our knowledge, the first evidence that sound can cause growth abnormalities in larvae…We therefore conclude that if larvae in the wild are subject to intense noise exposure during development, this could reduce recruitment and so have a delayed impact on stocks of mature animals” (p. 2).They continued, “Noise exposure during critical growth intervals may also contribute to stock vulnerability, underlining the urgency to investigate potential long-term effects of acoustic pollution on marine fauna. Moreover, these results call for applying the precautionary principle when planning activities involving high-intensity sound sources, such as explosions, construction or seismic exploration, in spawning areas of marine invertebrates” (p. 3).
EFFECTS ON ZOOPLANKTON
Recently released research has shown the effects that seismic testing has on zoo plankton. Zooplankton underpins ocean productivity; therefore impacts on their health have far reaching implications for ocean ecosystem health and all higher order species. Research conducted by McCauley et al (2017) found that zoo plankton abundance dropped with increased exposure to the seismic air gun. In terms of the effects, the authors refer to degradation of sensory ability and an orientation disability. The results showed a hole in the zooplankton 30 minutes after the air gun passed through (University of Tasmania, 2017). McCauley et al also noted that the zooplankton “may not die immediately” (p.5), however they do die. McCauley et al continued, “Given the extensive spatial scale for serious impacts on plankton observed here, combined with the repeat and sustained nature of many seismic surveys…it is highly probable that significant depletion or modification of plankton community structure is occurring on the scale of the 3D seismic surveys undertaken” (p. 5). The authors concluded with a statement that urgent research is needed to further understand the impacts on plankton and the broader marine environment, along with a need to prioritise investigations into alternative seismic testing approaches, because plankton underpin the whole ocean productivity.
MARINE MAMMAL IMPACTS
When we consider this evidence in relation to the Blue Whale population that was identified by Leigh Torres’ research, it is reasonable to assume that our local Blue Whale population will be negatively affected. As recently as February 2017, Torres sighted 68 different blue whale individuals in nine days in the South Taranaki Blight. Torres’s interview with the New Zealand Herald reminded the audience that the South Taranaki Blight has New Zealand’s only known blue whale foraging ground. Commenting on the sightings Torres noted that the whales looked thinner than they should be and many wore scars from collisions with vessels, and reflecting on the Trans-Tasman Resources application (regretfully supported by the EPA), Torres said that it was naïve to think that mining would not affect the Blue Whales (New Zealand Herald, 2017). On this assumption, it is equally naïve to propose that the seismic survey would not affect the blue whale population.
COMPLIANCE WITH CODE OF CONDUCT AND MARINE MAMMAL GUIDELINES
The applicant has stated that they will ensure total compliance with the Seismic Surveys Code of Conduct and the Marine Mammal Guidelines. This is perhaps because this then allows the activity to assume the status of a permitted activity under the EEZ Act and prevents the applicant from being subject an application by the Environmental Protection Agency.
Prior to addressing the inadequacy of the Marine Mammal Guidelines, it is important to reference the Department of Conservation (author of the Guidelines), who state, “Under normal circumstances marine seismic surveys would not be planned in any sensitive, ecologically important areas or during key biological periods where species of concern are likely to be breeding, calving, resting, feeding or migrating” (Department of Conservation, 2012). The South Taranaki Blight is an area of ecological importance and this area must be excluded from any seismic testing.
In respect of the Marine Mammal Guidelines, there is a particular limitation to relying on these guidelines alone and it unreasonable to state that a compliance with the guidelines is sufficient to afford the activity permitted activity status. Compliance with code requires the production of a Marine Mammal Impact Assessment (MMIA). In the opinion of TKONT, to date the MMIAs have fallen short of the requirements of the Code. Part of the obligations of the Code is to minimise disturbance to marine mammals and to contribute to the body of scientific knowledge on the behavioural and physical impacts of marine mammals. The MMIAs must therefore fully assess the total food chain impacts (as already set out in this submission) in order to fully assess the impacts on marine mammals. Our cursory review of the 12 assessments undertaken for operations in the south Taranaki blight proposes that no MMIA has fully assessed total food chain impacts.
The Passive Acoustic Monitoring systems (PAM) that are used to detect marine mammals do not detect the presence of fish and vertebrates (Hawkins et al., 2015), and whilst they may be less vocal there are a large number of fish species that heat and produce sound. Therefore the current acoustic monitoring techniques are limited in their effectiveness to understand total marine environment impacts.
In summary compliance with the Marine Mammal Guidelines does not assess total effects and does not mitigate all of the risks to the marine environment. And, a reliance on this as the basis to afford permitted activity status neglects the impact on fish, larvae and invertebrates and thus our customary and commercial fishing rights.
IMPACTS ON COMMERCIAL FISHING
A number of reports have detailed the effects of seismic testing in Australian waters on scallop abundance and health (ABC Premium News, 2010; Briscoe, 2012; Day, McCauley, Fitzgibbon, Hartmann, & Semmens, 2017; Ogilvie, 2010 ; Vidot, 2011). Vidot’s report noted that scallops, where no seismic testing had taken place were healthy and abundant, however where testing had taken place, 80% (24,000 tonnes) of the scallops had died. They cited the loss at equivalent to A$70million. Where scallops were still present, fisherman reported on their deteriorated condition (ABC Premium News, 2010). The exploration company cited a lack of evidence to prove a link, thus dismissing the real and visual loss of the scallops as reported by the fisherman. Had there been a requirement for the testing company to record the baseline ecological data, it would have been difficult for the seismic company to refute the claim.
Similar commercial concerns have also been voiced in America and in early 2017, President Obama’s administration banned all seismic testing off the Atlantic coast because of the risks to tourism, recreation economies, commercial fishing and the health of the marine environment (Knapp, 2017). Knapp reported, “Fish are harmed also and have been found to have damaged hearing structures and altered behaviour responses resulting in 40 percent to 80 percent reductions in commercial fishing catch rates. Sea turtles show avoidance and alarm responses to seismic testing. Even invertebrates like squid, crabs and scallops have been found to show stress response and even development delays and body malformations”. Knapp commented that these effects are out of sight to many, therefore easy to dismiss. They call for a real life experiment – and at this point refer to New Zealand as the testing ground to observe the effects of the seismic testing, presumably because of the prolific seismic testing that is occurring in New Zealand water. New Zealand does not however want to be this test ground, because based on the current evidence, it is very likely to confirm the negative effects already seen by other research.
TKONT requests that the entire area is removed from the permit because of the risks to the marine environment, the ;likely effect on our commercial and customary fishing interests, our Takutai Moana claim and the area being an area of ecological importance. There is a paucity of application data supplied to iwi and hapū, and whilst the company has held one conversation with us, no additional information has been forthcoming.
TKONT is happy to re-consider our position subject to the following:
The production of baseline ecological data about the marine environment in partnership with iwi;
* The production of an MMIA that address the total cumulative effects of the seismic survey including how impacts throughout the food chain affect marine mammals,
* Funding for the production of an independent, iwi led, Cultural Impact Assessment;
* Information that records how the behaviour and physical risks to all marine life (fish, lavae and zoo plankton) will be avoided;
* Receipt of information that sets out the procedures that will avoid a spill or other environmental disaster; and the processes for clean-up and remediation; and
* Engagement by the application, with iwi, regarding the payment of a substantial financial bond to offset the losses to the marine environment and our commercial and customary fishing interests.
* And, finally, TKONT requires that the application should be subject to a full Environmental Protection Act (EPA) application process and hearing to ensure that total cumulative effects and impacts are considered. Anything less than this will be a failure to fully address all parties’ interests and all potential effects and consequences.
The Crown has an obligation to minimise the disparity in resources between iwi and the Crown and must do everything it can to minimise the burden of responding to regulatory demands that are place upon iwi. Proper consideration and attention to the matters raised in this submission would confirm your commitment to recognising the significance of Te Tiriti o Waitangi as it applies to the Crown Minerals process and demonstrate your commitment to respecting the mana whenua within the proposed areas.
We look forward to engaging in further dialogue with you. Please contact me at email@example.com for any matters of clarification.