With the overarching theme Healing the Broken body: Tending and Mending ‘Our Sea of Islands’, a slate of distinguished speakers and 33 representatives from CWM Pacific region’s member churches discussed the pertinent issue of Deep Sea Mining (DSM) at the DSM Consultation held in Nadi, Fiji recently.
They tackled discussions identifying habits and practices in different societies or communities that evidence people’s losing touch with nature and how they’ve objectified the earth. In one of the Bible study sessions, they conferred on whether the flood in the book of Genesis was avoidable after God’s warning to Noah about the imminent destruction. They also talked about ramifications of saving Noah and his family on the future of the world, and whether corruption had ceased. One of the speakers, Dr Afereti Uili, explained that there was hope of a new creation in and through the form of Noah and his family despite the destruction of the earth, and the challenge is for a “Noah community” in the midst of chaos and brokenness.
The Consultation had started with an inaugural worship by Rev Saifoloi Faateete from CCCAS.
Another Bible study was based on Hosea 4:1-3, about the earth’s mourning arising from disobedience to God, and Dr Uili stressed humanity’s intimate connection to the earth. Akuila Tawake from the Geoscience Department of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) introduced the scientific perspective of DSM in the Pacific Region, potential economic benefit, and the environmental impact. DSM is a relatively new mineral retrieval process where hydraulic pumps or bucket systems take deposits of precious metals created by vents near the ocean floor to the surface for processing.
Subsequently, Dr Samson Viulu from The University of the South Pacific provided the bio-prospecting perspective, highlighting marine life at such depths – undiscovered and unresearched yet – which absorbs harmful emissions and regulate climatic conditions. The final guest speaker Joey Tau from The Pacific Network on Globalisation (PANG) highlighted the harmful impact DSM has on civil society.
The DSM Consultation turned out to be a huge learning experience for all the delegates, culminating in a declaration to “reaffirm our belief in God that God is the creator of the universe and that we are the custodians of creation”, as well as “our absolute opposition to all aspects of DSM development in the Pacific region”. Taking “the precautionary principle approach”, they reiterated the role churches play in maintaining peace in our communities by inviting direct dialogue with governments, investors and interest groups towards making informed decisions on DSM. Limited access to scientific information; inadequate biodiversity assessment of the deep sea ecosystems; unforeseen environmental destruction and changes to thermodynamics affecting biological functions have made this role crucial.