This blog on New Caledonia is for those of you who ever wondered what life on a tiny island in the South Pacific might be like. Tired of bracing winter winds, the stress of an inner city or simply dreaming of a life change? This is a blog about what happens when, in the words of Yogi Berra, "you come to a fork in the road, [and] take it".

27 November 2006

Delays at Goro and Aquaculture Increasingly Important for New Caledonia

I read two wholly unconnected articles recently and wondered about a possible link between the two.

The first concerned the new delays and increased costs for the nickel mine that is being built in southern New Caledonia. Inco, the company behind Goro Nickel, has a new head. At a press conference in Rio de Janeiro (yes Brazil took control of the Canadian company and its Goro project last month), it was announced that the mine would not start producing nickel until the end of 2008 and that costs will rise to US$3 billion. See Costs at Inco's Goro nickel project soar.

The second article concerned the importance of aquaculture in the Pacific region in coming years. Dr. Tim Adams, who heads the Secretariat for the Pacific Community's Marine Resources Division, told Pacific government representatives at a recent meeting of SPC's governing body that aquaculture "will become increasingly important for exports and food security. As wild stocks come under increasingly rigorous management (...) the economic balance will tip further in favor of aquaculture." See Aquaculture increasingly vital for Pacific.

Now, the Goro Nickel mine is purported to present a tremendous threat to marine biodiversity. In addition, I'd read that there were plans for the development of large-scale industrial coastal shrimp aquaculture operations in the area.

Will Goro Nickel really be for the good of New Caledonia and the Pacific region, I wonder?

(And a thank you to Dr. Adams for his recent post on this blog.)


Anonymous said...

Don't get me wrong Julie. Taken in isolation the words quoted in that press release may have implied something different from what I was actually saying.

I make no moral judgements about the benefits or drawbacks of aquaculture, industrial or otherwise. What I was trying to point out at the SPC's governing council meeting was the inevitability of aquaculture becoming more economically feasible, compared to fishing.

The reason I was doing this was to urge Pacific Island nations and territories to be prepared - it will not be to their advantage to allow aquaculture to develop willy-nilly.

Some groundwork needs to be laid - criteria set, for deciding just what is allowable, under what circumstances, and where - in the public interest. Its a lot easier to get these basic controls in place before investment occurs than after.

And I was referring to the whole island region. I understand that New Caledonia is better prepared than most other Pacific Islands in this regard.

Shrimp farming is not intrinsically bad, any more than driving a car is intrinsically bad. Its a question of the scale, and the way it is done - its "ecological footprint", particularly on mangrove coasts.

I make no comment at all on mining, which I know nothing about, and I know nothing about any local plans for "large-scale industrial shrimp farming" at Goro either. But I am aware that New Caledonia claims an excellent environmental track record when it comes to shrimp farming, particularly compared with the main shrimp-farming countries.

Anyway, sorry if I sound like a mealy-mouthed bureaucrat here, but I have to watch my words very carefully on politically volatile subjects. SPC is supposed to be non-political (although I'm not exactly sure how you define "political" in this sense).


Julie said...

Thanks for this very useful response, Dr. Adams. I recognise that the delays at Goro and their increasing costs may have no bearing on the development of aquaculture in the Pacific region, but was amused by the posting of the two articles side by side on "New Caledonia News".

Your quote piqued my interest - and I am grateful for the elaboration. I'm sure our readers are as well.

And no worries about the care you must take with your words. Having worked with the OECD in Paris, I wholly understand your position.

Many thanks for taking the time to post such a clear response.