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6.6 Conflict over seabed mineral resources

For two days in December 1984 about a hundred individuals from American universities and researeh organizations, corporations such as Bechtel, Hawaiian Dredging, and Lockheed, and government agencies from across the United States as well as from the Federal Republic of Germany assembled at the East-West Center in Honolulu to attend a conference on Marine Mining Development in Hawaii. Sponsored by the US Department of the Interior, the Minerals Management Service, and the State of Hawaii Department of Planning and Economic Development, the conference was mainly designed to discuss highly technical matters related to prospective development of cobalt-rich ferro-manganese oxide crusts, which are known to exist within the US FEZ around the Hawaiian Islands.

Although actual mining of these crusts awaits more precise determination of 'abundance, grade, deposit size and setting' (Morgan, 1984: 2; Clark et al., 1984: 163-74) and other information, there is little doubt that serious consideration is being given to this mining. An environmental impact statement is being prepared, and resource data are being acquired by the University of Hawaii, supported by the US Geological Survey and a German consortium of government and industrial interests (Morgan, 1984: 2). The Conference reiterated what is clear from the professional literature on ocean mining: the technology has been developed, and although it is not fully tested, it is available (Anonymous, 1978; Anonymous, 1988; Clark, Johnson, and Chin, 1984). Technology is not the stumbling block to mining of the Hawaiian ferro-manganese deposits.

The problems that lie ahead for ocean mining in and around the Hawaiian arehipelago will probably stem from political and environmental objections comparable to those that surfaced over a proposal to mine seabed metallic sulphides located in an area known as Gorda Ridge off the coast of Northern California and Oregon (Los Angeles Times, 1984: 18; Oakland Tribune, 1984: 4-8; The Paper, 1984). Environmental activists in Hawaii and on the West Coast of the United States have closely monitored the mounting plans to begin seabed mining in and around the Islands. When public hearings were held in May 1984 to discuss the related questions of ocean mining and ocean leasing in Hawaii, there was coherent opposition from Hawaiian activists and environmentalists (Honolulu Advertiser, 2 May 1984; State of Hawaii, Department of Planning and Economic Development, 1981). The prestigious San Francisco-based Oceanic Society filed a lengthy Memorandum of Opposition against Hawaii proceeding prematurely with plans for an environmental impact assessment, arguing in part that it did 'not support governmental actions that are designed to rush forward with leases in offshore areas when such actions are precipitous, unsound and illegal'. In a detailed four-page appendix to its memo, the Oceanic Society further argued that 'extensive, pre-lease studies should be completed on basic geology/geophysics, geochemistry, chemical and biological oceanography, physiology, ecology, population dynamics, and other considerations that are pertinent to the geophysical areas of interest and onshore support sites' (Oceanic Society, 1984).

Another, although different, of opposition to seabed mining arose on the first day of the 1984 Marine Mining Development Conference in Honolulu when a small group of Hawaiian women activists bedecked with leis demonstrated their opposition to ocean mining by distributing leaflets. They attempted to speak briefly to the rather startled and embarrassed Conference attendees, who sheepishly accepted the leaflets with as much good grace as the situation allowed.

In addition to the researeh done in Hawaii, there has been a considerable amount of basic marine-centred geological researeh conducted within the past decade on the location and availability of seabed minerals and petroleum in selected areas of the Pacific (Recy and Dupont, 1982; Greene and Wong, 1984; CCOP/ SOPAC, 1981; Mizuno and Shujo, 1975) In the early 1970S, the USSR offered to assist the newly emerging island nations in geophysical researeh to identify possible mineral deposits adjacent to their shorelines. In quick response, the United States, New Zealand, and Australia formed a tripartite consortium to provide similar assistance to the island nations. This activity has come under the aegis of the Committee for the Co-ordination of Joint Prospecting for Mineral Rcsourccs in South Pacific Offshore Areas (CCOP/SOPAC), a major regional entity concerned with the mapping and exploration of ocean mineral and hydrocarbon resources9 (CCOP/SOPAC, n.d.). Considerable petroleum potential remains to be discovered on the continental shelves and in deeper water on the continental slope and rises of the marginal basins bordering the major circum-Pacific land masses, and perhaps behind the small island ares in the western and southwestern Pacific. Further potential exists in pre-Tertiary sediments underlying already productive basins, and in gas hydrates (gas and water in the solid state) in sediments in deep water. These gas hydrates may also form an impermeable seal capping more gas and oil.

The estimated total gross value of undiscovered oil and gas resources in South-East Asia ranges from USA. 1 trillion to US$II trillion, in North-east Asia from US$0.4 trillion to US$4 trillion, and in Oceania from US$0.5 trillion to US$6 trillion. This estimate for Oceania does not include resources expected in Tonga, Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands, and most important, Papua New Guinea, all of which could be worth as much as another trillion dollars. By comparison, the United States Pacific area, including Alaska, might harbour $0.3 trillion worth of oil and gas (Valencia and Marsh, 1986; Roland, Goud, and McGregor, 1983; United Nations, Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, 1980).

Cobalt-rich manganese crusts have been reported from seamounts in the Hawaiian and Line islands at depths between 1 100 m and 2 600 m. The thickness of crusts reaches 7-9 centimetres and averages 2.5 centimetres. These crusts contain a mean of 25 per cent manganese, 0.8 per cent cobalt, 0.5 per cent nickel, 0.07 per cent copper, and 0.0005 per cent platinum. A seamount may contain between 2 million and 4 million tons of crust, approximating the amount of ore required for the yearly production of a commercial deep-sea mine. The concentration of cobalt is about I per cent greater than cobalt ores mined on landand the market price of cobalt (US$27. 56tkg) is about five times that of nickel (US4.98/kg) and 15 times that of copper (US$I.77/kg). Total values of cobalt, nickel, copper, and molybdenum in the mid-Pacific Mountains and Line Islands crusts from water depthsless than 2 600 m are $170 to $202 per wet ton of crust or $340 million to $808 million worth of wet ore per deposit, not counting platinum. The exclusive economic zones around the Hawaiian Islands and Johnston and Palmyra islands contain an estimated 10 million tons of cobalt, 6 million tons of nickel, 1 million tons of copper, and 300 million tons of manganese. A prime mine site might contain $165/tonne of cobalt, $37. so/tonne of nickel, $1.32/ tonne of copper, and $43.57/tonne of manganese for a total of $247.39/tonne of ore, or perhaps $4 of gross contained metal value per sq. m (Clark, Johnson, and Chin, 1984; Halbach, 1984; Honolulu Advertiser, l' October 1985: B-1). Additional deposits have been found in the Marshall Islands, the Northern Mariana Islands, and Guam.

Marine polymetallic sulphide deposits are located at 2 000 metres to 4 000 metres around high-temperature hydrothermal vents in seafloor spreading centres or mid-ocean rift zones. Known locations include the Galapagos Ridge, the East Pacific Rise, the Gorda-Juan de Fuca Ridge System, and the Guaymas Basin. Recently, deposits have been found off Tonga, in the Lau and North Fiji basins, and in the Bismarek Sea; more are expected. Minerals of commercial interest include iron, zinc, copper, gold, manganese, platinum, and vanadium. Some deposits contain up to 21 per cent copper, 50 per cent zinc, and 45 per cent iron (Honolulu Advertiser, 7 May 1984: A-6; Cronan, 1983; National Advisory Committee on Oceans and Atmosphere, 1983).

Manganese nodules containing nickel, copper, cobalt, and manganese had long been considered the prime economic mineral resource in the deep sea. There are about 10 trillion tons of nodules in the Pacific. However, only a small portion of these deposits contain the economic cutoff percentage of 2 per cent nickel plus copper plus cobalt and are found in concentrations greater than 10 kg/sq. m over an area sufficient for 20 years' production. The highest concentration of nodules (more than 8 kg/sq. m) with the highest nickel plus copper (at least I per cent combined content) are found between 3 200 m and 5 900 m in the North-east Pacific. Mean values of potential mining sites here have the following ranges: manganese 22-27 per cent; nickel 1.2-1.4 per cent; copper 0.9-1.1 per cent; cobalt 0.15-0.25 per cent. Economic-grade nodule fields have also been reported within the exclusive economic zone of Mexico. In the South Pacific, nodule distribution is more irregular; one area of concentration is around the Manihiki Plateau, the Society Islands, Tahiti, and the Tuamotu Arehipelago. Further south, nodules occur west of the East Pacific Rise and north-east of New Zealand. Another nodule area lies in the circumpolar region of Antaretica. In the northern Peru Basin, nodule density is 7 kg/sq. m to 14 kg/sq. m up to 30 kg/sq. m with I. II.2 per cent nickel and thus may be of economic interest. Manganese nodules might be mined in the 1990s when economic, technical, legal, and political factors are more favourable. In a first phase of mining, about 0.6 million sq. km in the North-east Pacific nodule belt and 2 million sq. km in the total Pacific may contain fields of sufficient nodule density, weight, and metal content. The in situ reserves amount to 16 billion tons of nodules in the first phase, with recoverable reserves of 5.6 billion tons. The area for each mining site would be between 80 000 sq. km and 120 000 sq. km. There would be space in abundance for at least 40 to 45 mining sites in the Pacific during a first generation of deep-sea mining (Halbach, 1984: 42, 45-7, 55-8)

Questions of abundance, grade, deposit size, setting, and economic feasibility aside, there is clear evidence that there are deposits of petroleum, manganese crusts and nodules with nickel, copper, and cobalt components, phosphate and phosphorites, and sulphides (Bramwell, 1977; Halbach, 1984: Figs. 2, 8). For example, in a recently completed, extensive study by the US Geological Survey of offshore areas adjacent to Fiji, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Tonga, and Vanuatu, the following findings emerged:

1. An area identified as the southern Tonga platform was found to be a 'source for hydrocarbons [but with] its extent . . . uncertain' (Greene and Wong, 1984: 51);

2. In the Lau Basin, an area between Tonga and Fiji, geologic data suggest 'that massive sulfides may be forming along the spreading ridge from the circulation of mineralizing hydrothermal fluids with consequent precipitation of polymetallic sulfides' (Greene and Wong, 1984: 53-4);

3. In the central basin of Vanuatu, there are preliminary indications of petroleum hydrocarbons, although 'quantity, quality and type of hydrocarbon is unknown, as is the economic prospect of developing such a resource' (Greene and Wong, 1984: 54);

4. The Malakula and East Santo Basins appear to tee 'tine most promising basins . . . for accumulating hydrocarbons' (Greene and Wong, 1984: 54);

5. The Central Solomons Trough is considered to be the best prospect for the concentration and entrapment of hydrocarbons (Greene and Wong, 1984: 57).

Researeh on manganese nodules and crusts indicates high-grade and abundant deposits in four areas:

1. The East Central Paqcific Basin south-west and west of the Southern Line Islands;
2. The East Central Pacific Basin north and cast of the Phoenix Islands;
3. The West Central Pacific Basin west and north-west of the Phoenix Islands;
4. The North Penrhyn Basin north of Penrhyn Island (Gonan, 84:16)

Other studies have shown indications of manganese nodule deposits in potentially economically significant quantities and quality in a number of other areas within the EEZs of Pacific island states (Exon, 1982a, 1982b; East-West Center, 1982). Table 6.7 provides summary information on nodule metal grades in various areas.

Complete information about these resources is not yet available, and the seareh for them goes on-particularly under the auspices of CCOP/SOPAC. Aside from unsuccessful drilling for oil hi offshore areas of Fiji and Tonga, there are no serious indications of marine mining in the offing such as in Hawaii. Nor have there yet been feasibility studies or proposals for ocean leasing. In short, compared with what has been accomplished in Hawaii so far, the Pacific islandsalthough possessed of at least comparable seabed rcsources-are at a stage of awareness comparable to that of Hawaii about a decade ago.

The island states are not totally unaware of this new resource frontier, however. In the most recent National Development Plans for Fiji and Vanuatu, for example, offshore mineral cxploration and related matters figure prominetly. There are no detailed overarehing policies in place yet, nor are there any indications in the documentary sources examined that consideration is being given to co-operation among Pacific island countries in the future exploitation of their resources.

There are, however, indications of exchange and sharing of information between island states on a fairly regular basis. Concerning seabed mineral exploitation, Pacific island politics differ from Hawaii in one important respect: there are no public environmental interest groups in the Pacific islands. Although there is a commitment on the part of every government in the region to environmental protection, legislation is almost non-existent. For example, nowhere is there better testimony to concern about the protection of the environment than in what has come to be known as the Rarotonga Declaration (Appendix), adopted by almost all the Pacific island nations in Mareh 1982. 'The Action Plan for managing the natural resources and environment of the South Pacific Region' (UNEP Regional Seas Programme, 1983), which is based on the Rarotonga Declaration, is even more detailed and comprehensive, particularly with respect to the marine environment. The South Pacific Regional Environmental Program Treaty (SPREP), designed to effect the aims of the Action Plan, has been negotiated. Even after the Treaty is implemented, however, there will still be enormous problems of enforcement. When and if the prospect of seabed mining reaches the state it has in Hawaii, no amount of legislation will by itself protect the marine environment without the involvement of well-informed environmental interest groups as well as other organizations whose activities are designed to hold governments accountable.

TABLE 6.7 Summary of Nodule Metal Grades in Various Areas



  %Mn %Fe Mn:Fe %Ni %Cu %Co %Ni+Cu+Co
Manihiki Plateau
(Horn, Horn & Delach, 1973)
Mean 16.9   n.a. 0.30 0 17 0.51 0.98
Samoan Passage
(12 samples)
Min. 15.1 13.8 0 74 0.18 0.10 0.25 0.61
Max. 20.5 20.7 1 33 0.48 0.40 0.66 1.15
Mean 17.9 18.3 0.98 0.30 0.18 0.40 0.88
Samoa Basin
(9 samples)
Min. 13.0 8.1 0 75 0.21 0.11 0.11 0 45
Max. 18.6 21.2 1.85 0 45 0.28 0 55 1.08
Mean 16.3 14.6 1 13 0 34 0.20 0.28 0.67
South-west Pacific Basin
(18 samples)
Min. 12.2 14.7 0 57 0.15 0.11 0.20 0.61
Max. 21.2 25.8 1.20 0.70 0.33 0.52 1.47
Mean 16.2 18.6 0.87 0 43 0.24 0 4° 1.07
South Penrhyn Basin
(4 samples)
Min. 7.9 5 6 0 so 0.11 0 07 0.22 0 54
Max. 23.0 22 5 2.12 1.08 0.69 0.56 2.02
Mean 15.2 15.4 0 99 0.41 0.22 0.36 0.99
North Penrhyn Basin
(10 samples)
Min. 7.5 5 3 0.58 0.20 0.09 0.09 0.48
Max. 24.1 16.6 4 46 0.99 0 .95 0.43 2.10
Mean 16.3 10.1 1.61 0 .57 0.38 0.23 1.18
Equatorial North Pacific'
Red clay
Siliceous ooze
Mean 17.4 11.4 1.53 0.76 0.50 0.28 1 54
Mean 22.4 8.1 2.76 1.16 1.02 0.25 2.43

As pressures and enticements increase to develop both land-based and marine resources, there will be temptation for some anxious governments to short-circuit whatever exists in the corpus of environmental law in the interests of securing contracts from prospective developers.

The potential seabed minerals are those the major industrial powers are likely to focus their attention on-cobalt, manganese, nickel, copper, chromium, platinum group metals, molybdenum, and vanadiumeither because they need them or because they might want to control access to them as part of a strategic minerals denial policy (Boczek, 1984). It is difficult to eseape the impression that competition for and the prospect of conflict over the mineral resources of the Pacific are already in the making. For many reasons, the United States considers the Pacific more important than the Atlantic (Anthony, 1984). With its dependence on outside sources (mainly the Third World) for certain strategic minerals-which may not now be critical but could become so in the near future-the United States may want to ensure access to what is available within the marine zones of Pacific island states for one important reason: having chosen not to sign the Law of the Sea Treaty, the United States, as long as it remains a nonsignatory to that Treaty, will find it difficult to obtain access to seabed minerals outside the island EEZs. If seabed minerals in which the United States has an interest can be mined within the EEZs in cooperation with island governments, there will be even less reason to submit to the requirements of the International Seabed Authority and, consequently, no reason to sign the Law of the Sea Convention. All other things being equal, US companies may even find it more attractive to deal with the resource-poor but flexible Pacific islands, which have less power to insist on transfer of mining technology and other requirements that have been an irritation to the United States.

6.7 Conclusions

Added to the mounting evidence of the existence of seabed minerals within the claimed waters of Pacific island states, the existence of land-based commercial mineral deposits including bauxite, copper, nickel, gold, chromie, and possibly petroleum as well as a number of minerals of lesser importance such as magnetite sands and manganese, is better established (Exon, 1982a; 1982b; East-West Center, 1982). Indeed gold, copper, nickel, silver, and manganese have for many years been commercially exploited. The importance of the Pacific islands as a source of mineral wealth is clear. When this is added to potentially available mineral resources outside of the EEZs and the pelagic resources of the region, the resource significance of the whole region emerges. But the importance of the region-indeed its strategic importance-is due not only to its resource base, but also to such other factors as the attractiveness of the islands as possible military communications/command/control bases and ports of call for a wide variety of military surface and sub-surface vessels, which are being increasingly deployed throughout the region by both superpowers. If one accepts the 'defence of the sealanes' argument of the United States and its Pacific Soviet threat thesis (Arkin and Chappell, 1984), the role of the region in the bigger picture comes into even sharper focus.

With increasing superpower tensions in the North-wcst Pacific, the re-militarization of Japan, the importance of submarine nuclear capability in the nuclear strategies of the superpowers, the militarization of the region looms larger and 'strategic denial' (Anthony, 1984: 3-6) takes the form of an extension of the Monroe doctrine into the Pacific. In operational terms, strategic denial means even more now than its original intention on the part of the United States to deny 'access to the islands to any present or potential enemy' (Anthony, 1984: 4). It now includes denial of the region's strategic minerals, marine space, and anything else of strategic value to present or potential enemies of the United States or their allies. Like it or not, the Pacific Ocean has now become an American lake; its island states are protected by the American nuclear umbrella whether they want to be or not. Strategic denial is a policy that invites conflict and confrontation-between the superpowers; between island states unwilling to become client states and those with a different disposition; and between island states and the superpowers, which try to entice them into entangling alliances. One outgrowth of such conflict is that inevitably island states are pitted against each other. Considered in systemic/ linkage terms, strategic denial, whether of resources, territory, marine space, or of island governments to freely choose allies, is the fuel that is likely to feed the fires of conflict and to exacerbate all of the uncertainties that accompany instability.

'Pacific' means 'peaceful', but that has already lost a lot of meaning to those who have watched with growing apprehension and frustration almost a half century of nuclear testing in the region and its concealed or underreported effects-on people, the food chain, and the environment in general. At one end of the spectrum, the arms buildup in the Pacific leaves the region open to possible naval nuclear war, conveniently far away from the major metropolitan powers' population centres. At the other end of the spectrum lies the festering prospect of increasing nuclear pollution, foreign interference in domestic politics, collaboration of elites with foreign interests, and consequential political repression and corruption (already much in evidence and growing).

It is difficult to sustain the view that mineral and other resources are at the heart of the newly emergent importance of the Pacific. The more defensible proposition is that the Pacific islands' mineral resources together with such less tangible resources as marine space, a commodious environment, and friendly people, make the islands especially important in a world dominated by technological advance, great power rivalry and new offensive postures in the name of defence, a dramatic shift in trade patterns, and new patterns of international interdependence.

These small islands thus face problems, challenges, and oppor "unities that call for unusually creative action. These problems and challenges will test the collective genius of Pacific islanders, whose fragile cultures have already begun to fray and decline. The opportunities that lie ahead can only be seized by political leadership willing and able to move in new directions-at times in concert with each other, at other times by lone trail-blazing. They will need caution as well as cunning, much as their ancestors did when they followed the stars and braved the uncertainty of uncharted waters, venturing boldly from many directions towards these now strategic islands.

There is potential for conflict at different levels and between different actors at the level of regional organizations. What happens in the SPFFA and in the Forum itself with respect to fisheries will be vital. Given the 'creative tension' that already exists in the SPFFA, issues related to conservation, rates of exploitation, fees for licences, approaches to surveillance, and types of joint venture and other arrangements with distant-water fishing nations are all bound to generate friction. It is not conflict per se that is of so much concern as conflict that becomes destructive, getting in the way of orderly resolution of larger or more fundamental problems. So far, a particular kind of collective approach has worked well in the pelagic resources area, in the sense that differences over key issues such as non-Forum country membership in the SPFFA have not affected the basic solidarity of island states. SPFFA would be negligent, however, if in addition to gathering basic data on pelagic resources, it did not pay some attention to the delicate question of considering means that might be used to address conflicts between members, as well as those that involve member nations in their relationships with the increasingly complex array of customers with whom they will be doing business.

Assuming even a small measure of continuing orderly political development within each island state, it is probable that issues pertaining to pelagic resources will become the subject of domestic political debate. This has not happened so far, partly because the fledgling Opposition parties and what pass for interest groups in the region have shown little interest in challenging the slender assumptions on which present government policies are based. This is bound to change, and when it does there are likely to be repercussive effects on gouvernments and on regional organizations. In turn, such changes will undoubtedly affect bilateral and sub-group relationships among governments and their distantwater fishing counterparts as well as the of foreign clients with whom they do business. What has so far been a fairly stable situation could tend to a disequilibrium not previously known. For these reasons, the Pacific has become an area of multiple uncertainties.

Selective offers may soon be made to individual island states for mining rights, ocean leasing, and oil and gas prospecting licences. In the absence of sufficient data or broad consultation, regrettable decisions might be made that could be avoided. Perhaps the establishment of a South Pacific regional centre for minerals policy, data collection, and analysis would be appropriate (East-West Center, 1982: 19); however, yet another regional organization may overload the circuits and overtax the capacity of island governments to fund it. But it is precisely a regional focus on marine minerals development that is needed, and no less urgent is the need to sift and analyse what data have been collected and to direct the future course of data collection and analysis. There is still time to attend to these urgent preparatory tasks, as actual marine mining is not likely to begin yet (Johnson and Clark, 1985). There is also an urgent need to train a wide range of marine scientists who have a firm grasp of the petroleum and mineral fields. In the absence of composite information, a substantial amount of regional consultation, and indigenous or trusted expertise, it would be best for the islands to adopt a wait-and-see attitude.

Equally important, there is an urgent need for what might be called 'information self-sufficiency'. Pacific islanders must become knowledgeable about the great industrial powers by whom they are surrounded and with whom they are likely to be increasingly involved. Not only is there a need for a core of Pacific islanders to become proficient in the major languages of the wider Pacific regionJapanese, Mandarin, Korean, Russian, and Indonesian-but they must also learn their modes of negotiation and become familiar with their cultures, their histories, and the underpinnings of their economic theories. The Pacific islands must develop a common strategy that would protect their marine, seabed mineral, and other resources. This calls for a sophisticated and co-ordinated foreign policy frameworkdiplomatic, political, and economic- not unlike ASEAN, designed to prevent them from becoming hostages or pawns of any larger power. (The larger powers include not only the States and the Soviet Union, but Japan, China, Korea, the European states, and the ASEAN nations.) There is much that Pacific islanders can learn from these countries, but they will have to decide what they most want to learn; that means co-ordinated regional planning and the ability to discern what will be important in their national interests.

Both in the long and in the short run, these achievements will require investment in what might be the seareest of their natural resources-their own people. Unless Pacific island states can provide for their own development the necessary army of technicians, technocrats, and trained personnel in a variety of twenty-first century skills, they will be left behind in the race for control of their newly discovered frontier resources, for the second time since their rediscovery. Perhaps even more fundamental is the urgent need to shift cognitive gears: no longer are the resources of the world limited to land, labour, and capital. Pacific islanders must recognize that the resources of their world are land, labour, capital, and the ocean that surrounds them. They must acquire the knowledge and skills to use all four.

It is easy in an exercise such as this to be prescriptive, to specify from the ivory tower of speculative and analytical thought the direction public policy ought to take, what should be done, and in what sequence, without acknowledging the existence of the harsh political realities that constitute the fundamental framework within which public policy must be made. All of the suggestions made here are by their very nature political. As is the case in any state, almost all of the political decision-making in these micro-states is controlled by those in charge of the key mechanisms of the state-that is, by a power elite of elected politicians and what is usually a small coterie of local bureaucrats and trusted community influentials. These are politics that have few effective counter-vailing forces capable of holding the power elite accountable. By and large, even opposition parties are poorly informed, particularly about some of the complex issues raised here In these circumstances, the only interest groups that prevail are those representing their own special interests-business, banking, transnational corporations (TNCs), foreign governmentswhich usually control the commanding heights of the economy.

Given these structural features of the decision-making process, the power elite has few constraints on its use of state power. Crucial decisions are made without any public participation, or, as is also often the case, without even any public knowledge. Whatever 'political development' has meant for these states, it has not entailed much in the of political education designed to prepare and encourage people to participate in the making of political decisions.

The track record of the recent past engenders pessimism about the future of marine resources policy. Dominant state elites seem to be fundamentally unprepared to deal effectively with great issues confronting them. They are hampered by information insufficiency and a singular lack of vision about the future. Their choice of foreign experts is often seriously flawed. Put more pointedly, the islands are vulnerable to being dispossessed of their ocean resources just as they were dispossessed of their land-based resources-gold, nickel, manganese, copper, sandalwood, timber, phosphate, and the land itself. The Japanese, the Americans, the South Koreans, the Chinese, the Canadians, some Latin Americans, the West Germans, the French, and a number of ASEAN nations now talk with monotonous regularity about the Pacific Century. When the Pacific Century is over, will it be said that islanders slept through it all while those who controlled the mechanisms of power in island states, with few exceptions, danced late into a long and weary night, celebrating plunder disguised as development?

Punder disguised as development in the exploitation of the natural resources which have been here identified will be serious enough where the impact is immediate-on the islands and on islanders. On reflection, however, this is far too narrow a view and this arises because of an epistemological flaw: the very conceptualization of natural resources in this essay has itself been too narrow. Starting from the perspective of the Pacific Islands, the concept of natural resources must be enlarged to include:

1. those that have been opened up by advances in science and technology, e. g. outer space, including particularly the geostationary orbit;

2. those that go beyond the traditional physical resource concept, e.g. climate, weather and culture, including arehives of traditional knowledge;

3. those that do not lend themselves to physical appropriation, e.g. the radio frequency spectrum; and

4. those that require a long-term perspective, e.g. environmental quality (Anthony, 1988).

Once one accepts this expanded definition, it becomes immediately apparent that resource exploitation has ineseapable global consequenees and quite serious implications for future generations of humankind. Indeed one is brought face to face with two compelling notions: that of intergenerational equity, that is matters related to 'problems of equity between generations arising from such factors as depletion of resources, degradation of the quality of resources, impoverishment of resources or foreclosing options for future generations' and the 'common heritage or patrimony of humankind' (Anthony, 1988: xvi).

The tools, the mechanisms, the procedures, indeed the corpus of international law by which these resource realms are to be protected, are, where they exist, weak-and often unenforceable (particularly when immediate action is necessary)Äand more often than not, nonexistent. There are time and spatial dimensions involved in the management of these resource realms. The time dimension is relevant to intergenerational equity because implicit in it is the concept of the responsibility of this generation to those of the future. One highly immediate and pertinent example of the 'spatial dimension' is the wellpublicized problem associated with the ozone layer and the host of issues related to it. The ozone layer problem, for example, has a particularly pernicious consequence for many islands: that of rising sea-levels, which, if this. were to eventuate, would submerge a significant number of atolls in the Pacific and elsewhere.

The flip side of the entire resource realm coin is what can be described as 'anti-resources' such as pollution, acid rain, and nuclear waste. For the Pacific, the major 'anti-resource' is pollution of the marine environment and possibly human gene pools resulting from nuclear testing: by the Americans in the Northern Pacific; the French in the South-west Pacific, and the British in Australia. The extent of food-chain contamination may be more serious than suspected. Few scientists have undertaken the empirical researeh that cries out to be done on this subject and the reason is clear enough-the issue is too politically controversial. Radiation contamination of humans in the Pacific has been extensively documented (Danielsson and Danielsson, 1986; Alcalay, 1988) but the damage, primarily from testing, by a series of French governments, encouraged by the acquiescence of the United States, continues unabated. The substantive point is simply this: an issue such as contamination of the marine food chain in the Pacific is not miraculously contained there any more than a major nuclear disaster at Chernobyl is confined, by some magic of science, to that city its immediate environment. And, of course, the same argument applies to the 'greenhouse effect': the burning of fossil fuels in North America, the destruction of large forest areas in South America and elsewhere (Cockburn, 1989), and the degradation of soil through intensive cultivation. All have cumulative global consequences which affect life on this planet. The 'greenhouse effect' cannot be contained by those who contribute most to creating the problem. Thus many resource problems in this extended definition are man-made and constitute an attack, in short, on the common heritage of humankind or that part of it which is left to us.

It is imperative, therefore, to see conflict over natural resources as an issue that also has global implications, and not merely for one geographical unit. The issues raised are of such far-reaching importance to human life that action and education on many fronts is urgently needed at a pace and on a seale far exceeding any brought to bear on any issue before. But it is precisely this collective approach that humans have been so ill adept an accomplishing. In the seareh for development, growth and diversification, we may have already plundered humankind's common heritage-irreversibly.

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