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Pacific News Briefs

deep ocean for minerals
Compiled by Samoa News staff

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Hawaii's new legislation banning seabed mining came into force Tuesday after it was signed into law by Governor Josh Green.

It follows a letter sent by 12 members of the US Congress to President Joe Biden in June, urging for a moratorium on deep seabed mining ahead of this month's International Seabed Authority meeting.

The new legislation, Hawaii Seabed Mining Prevention Act, prohibits the extraction and removal of minerals in state waters and bans issuing permits associated with seabed mining activity.

The bill, introduced by Senator Chris Lee, complements a law passed last year which allows Hawaii to deny entry to any marine vessel involved in seabed mining activities.

Lee said this move would safeguard Hawaii's marine ecosystem "for the foreseeable future", protecting more than 3000 square miles of the Pacific Ocean.

He said it was a precautionary measure as the environmental impacts of seabed mining were not yet clear.

"The impact that [seabed minerals mining] can have on the broader ocean, and species and habitats is simply unknown. But we do know that that impact is real, and the risk is real.

"We take action while we can; to protect our natural resources, to protect our oceans and ultimately to protect the planet we live on."

Lee added the seabed minerals industry was moving too fast and being cautious was necessary.

"Right now, the conversation appears to be driven largely by an industry that is very intent, on racing to capture part of the market and getting as much out of it as they can, which means an exploitation of the resource in our oceans in ways that we simply can't properly manage, properly vet, and with science that we simply don't yet have.

"We're putting on the brakes."

(RNZ Pacific)


An indigenous elder said the new legislation banning seabed mining complies with ancient Hawaiian chants.

Solomon Kaho'ohalahala shared a kumulipo (traditional creation chant) that was passed on by Queen Lili'uokalani, the last reigning queen of Hawaii.

In the traditional creation chant, it places significant value on even the smallest living organisms in the deep sea.

The chant recognizes the significance of creatures such as coral polyps which are integral to the growth of coral reefs.

It goes on to show how all life forms are interconnected through the life cycle.

Kaho'ohalahala said this emphasized how humans needed to look after the marine ecosystem.

"Our creation chant invokes this inherent responsibility that we have to be connected to all ecosystems and we bear the responsibility to take care of it."

"So for us, for a people whose country is the ocean, it would be important for us to make sure that we keep this ecosystem intact."

He said the ban on seabed mining in Hawaii honored this chant.

Kaho'ohalahala is now calling for the rest of the Pacific to follow suit and take a united stand against seabed mining.

He said while each nation legally reserved the right to make their own decisions, leaders needed to consider the potential impacts mining could have on neighboring nations.

"The ocean knows no boundaries. You cannot draw a line on the ocean and say that what I do on one side of the line will not impact the other side.

"A nation deciding to move ahead, has to know that they're going to impact not just themselves, but they're going to impact all of us."

(RNZ Pacific)


A law expert says Samoa's traditions should not be taken lightly when it comes to criminal offences.

It follows the recent report of a man convicted for manslaughter who delivered an ifoga, a traditional Samoan apology, with the judge saying it was an attempt to reduce his sentencing.

Senior Judge Justice Vui Clarence Nelson warned that abusing customs to lessen the court's punishment is "unacceptable".

The Judge issued a stern warning — stating that an ifoga was not a "get out of jail card".

The University of Auckland's Beatrice Tabangcaro said while criticisms of cultural practices in Samoa's legal systems are fair, it should not be dismissed.

"It would be remiss to remove the cultural significance and value of the ifoga in criminal sentencing but the question remains how do we prevent those abuses?

"But in addition to that it is up to us as Samoan people to remind ourselves of our cultural value.

"We should not be taking our dignified customary practices lightly, we should not be losing sight of the true essence of our cultural values and practices."

She said greater effort is needed to prevent Samoa's cultural customs from being abused.

Tabangcaro said customs have been used as "mitigating factors" in more serious cases.

"Customary reconciliation as a mitigating factor has also been criticized in the wider Pacific because its considered discriminatory, particularly when its being used for sexual offences and domestic violence offences because the overwhelming majority of the offenders in those cases are male," she said.

(RNZ Pacific)


The people of Guam have been thrown a lifeline extension to submit feedback on long-term missile testing on the US island territory.

Concerned about the testing, Guam's acting governor Joshua Tenorio requested a 60-day extension to fully grasp the impacts on landowners and residents.

The US Missile Defense Agency has granted an extension of 30 days, not the requested 60 for submissions.

The plan proposes missile testing twice a year over the next decade from Andersen Air Force Base.

There are concerns over potential disruptions to residents and landowners if the testing goes ahead.

Elected officials asked the military to extend the comment period to review the 378-page environmental assessment which states tests could require public and private land in the vicinity to be closed or restricted for up to four days at a time.

A public meeting has been set down for July 25. People can have now their say until 2 August.


A Chinese national who tried to bribe a senior Samoa bureaucrat is to be deported, after serving a six- month jail sentence and paying a fine of $130,000 tālā.

The Samoa Observer reported China national Qinping Yang pleaded guilty to one count of prohibited export — in relation to trying to export sea cucumbers and similar species — and one count of bribing a government official.

He went to a Customs official's house to try and get the container cleared without inspection.

District Court Judge Matautia Raymond Schuster said the attempt to bribe a government official with $5000 tālā was serious and warrants a harsh penalty.

(Samoa Observer)


In West Papua, 245,506 hectares of land is under review to be recognized as customary forest land.

Local advocates say the livelihoods of indigenous people are dependent on the existence of customary forest grounds, which they feel are threatened by the palm oil industry.

JubiTV reported an estimated 2.6 million hectares of land in Papua New Guinea is currently used by industrial plantation companies.

Submissions were made by nine clans of the Wambon Kenemopte Tribe, in Boven Digoel Regency, South Papua in an effort to reclaim control over indigenous land.

(RNZ Pacific)


Palau's Senate is set to get two more seats under a 2024 plan from the Congressional Reapportionment Commission.

The final plan maintains a single senatorial district and increases Senate seats from 13 to 15.

According to the plan, this aims to enhance constituent access to elected officials, ensuring more equal representation and a broader distribution of political power.

The Island Times reported key factors considered in the plan included the latest population data, the need for equal representation, and the operational expenses of the Senate.

(RNZ Pacific)


The largest grant-funded project by the European Union in Papua New Guinea and the Pacific is reaping the fruits of its harvest.

With a focus on training and upskilling farmers, the EU-STREIT PNG Program in East and West Sepik has benefited nearly half a million people and supported more than 750 agribusiness groups.

Farmer Fabian Homboku from Huareheng village is the latest farmer to be supported through fish farming, vanilla cultivation and Cocoa plantations.

He has since passed on his fishing skills to one-thousand farmers across 12 villages.

(RNZ Pacific)


The Apia Harbor hotel, originally opened in 1933 by legendary local Aggie Grey, has begun a phased reopening after a WST32 million renovation.

Known as a hotspot for American servicemen during WWII and later attracting celebrities like Marlon Brando, Gary Cooper and Dorothy Lamour, the hotel has long been a blend of charm and glamour. With its refurb, it’s now marrying modernity with tradition.

Currently, 56 out of 175 rooms, suites, and bungalows are available, with a grand reopening planned for October 2024.

According to owner Sheraton Hotels, the renovation has carefully balanced classic local architecture with contemporary features.

Sheraton says the renovation aims to foster community, gathering, and productivity, inspired by Samoa’s rich cultural heritage. 

( newsroom)