Tonga a world leader in seabed minerals law

News date: 
September 5, 2014

The Kingdom of Tonga this month became the first country in the world to put in place a law that manages seabed mineral activities within its national marine space and under its sponsorship in international waters. Tonga’s Seabed Minerals Act 2014 was prepared with the assistance of the Deep Sea Minerals Project a partnership between the European Union (EU) and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) and 15 Pacific Island countries.

Tonga, like Papua New Guinea, Fiji and Solomon Islands, has already received significant commercial interest in the seabed mineral potential within its national seas and, if mined, would bring a new source of revenue for Tonga. Now, in Tonga, before any seabed mining can commence, the requirements of the Seabed Minerals Act must be followed. This includes a stringent vetting process by government of any new project proposals, and public consultation if mining is proposed. Environmental impact assessment and ongoing monitoring are legal requirements under the Act, and government is given enforcement powers in order to maintain compliance with required performance standards. The Act also highlights the importance placed by Tonga on the protection and preservation of the marine environment, recognising the need to balance economic development for the people of Tonga against conservation of the biodiversity of the oceans.

Read the full news article on the Secretariat of the Pacific Community's website.

The legislation documents can be downloaded here.