The deep sea is the largest biome on Earth. This mysterious and varied place makes up 90% of the marine environment and plays a vital role in regulating our planetary systems, not least by absorbing and storing vast quantities of the carbon dioxide emitted into the air by human activity.

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DSCC Briefing 26th ISA February Council Meeting | February 17

DSCC Submission on March 22, 2019 Version of Draft ISA Exploitation

DSCC Briefing on Liability Issues for Seabed Mining


DSCC Interventions

On Agenda item 11: Implementation of the decision of the Council in 2019 relating to the reports of the Chair of the Legal and Technical Commission (ISBA/26/C/3)

  • PDF (English)

On Agenda item: Financial Model, Report by the Chair of the Open-Ended Working Group | February 18

  • PDF (English)

On Agenda item 12: Regional Environment Management Plans | February 19

  • PDF (English)

On Agenda item 12: Draft regulations 44-48 | February 20

  • PDF (English)

On Draft decision of the Council concerning a standardized approach for the development, approval and review of regional environmental management plans in the Area (ISBA/26/C/CRP.4) | February 20

  • PDF (English)

On Agenda item 12. Draft regulations 49-56 | February 21

  • PDF (English)

On Agenda item 12. Draft regulations Parts V-VI | February 21

  • PDF (English)

On Agenda item 12. Draft regulations Annex IV and VII | February 21

  • PDF (English)


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On February 3, 2020, the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition issued a memo to over 100 Permanent Missions to the United Nations and related organizations in New York. The memo refers to a workshop entitled “To explore the Case for Sourcing Battery Metals from Ocean Nodules and Nori’s Program to Assess Environmental and Social Impacts” scheduled for 5-6 February 2020 in San Diego and organized by speculative deep-sea mining companies DeepGreen and NORI.

In a rush to move this industry forward, proponents such as the workshop organizers have positioned the discussion around the questions of “when and how”, rather than the more fundamental question of “if” deep-sea mining should ever be permitted, and under what circumstances.  Individuals and organizations around the world are increasingly calling for a moratorium on deep-sea mining out of concern for the damage it would cause to the fragile and yet-undiscovered ecosystems and species of the deep, and in the context of the urgent need to leave behind the extractive economic model in favour of a transformational approach that respects our planetary boundaries.

In this memo, we have compiled at a topline level some of the key arguments against the need for deep-sea mining.

Read the memo here (PDF).

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  • Available for download in English.

The overarching goals of the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition (DSCC) are to i) substantially reduce the
greatest threats to life in the deep sea, and ii) safeguard the long-term health, integrity and resilience of
deep-sea ecosystems.

Recognizing that:

  • The deep sea is home to the greatest diversity of species and ecosystems on Earth; provides critical
    environmental goods and services, including long-term carbon sequestration; and is characterized by
    environmental conditions that make it highly vulnerable to human disturbance;
  • Scientists have warned that deep seabed mining will cause biodiversity loss, both by destroying
    seabed life where mining would take place, with little prospect of recovery, and by generating
    plumes, light, toxins and noise that could impact both benthic and mesopelagic marine life far beyond
    actual mining sites;
  • The deep ocean is already and is increasingly facing multiple environmental stressors from pollutants,
    plastics, and climate change and related impacts such as acidification, warming, deoxygenation and
    reduced supply of nutrients from surface waters; and
  • There is a need for a more strategic global approach to mineral resource production, extraction, use
    and re-use. The United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development calls for protection of the
    oceans and sustainable consumption and production of resources. The Intergovernmental Panel on
    Climate Change (IPCC), the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and
    Ecosystem Services (IPBES) and the International Resource Panel (IRP) are all calling for
    transformational change in our use of the Earth’s resources to reverse environmentally destructive and
    wasteful production and consumption patterns.

In keeping with:

  • The need to live and operate within our planetary boundaries, while providing a safe and just space
    for all;
  • The precautionary principle, which requires that lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a
    reason for failing or postponing to take action to prevent environmental degradation; the burden of
    proof should rest with the proponents of an activity; and with the need to explore a wide range of
    alternatives to possibly harmful actions;
  • The need for public access to information about the environment, public participation in
    environmental decision-making and access to justice, as well as the need for inter- and intragenerational equity;
  • The obligations specified in UNCLOS Article 145 to ensure effective protection for the marine
    environment from harmful effects, and to that end, to adopt rules, regulations and procedures for the
    protection and conservation of the natural resources of the Area and the prevention of damage to the
    flora and fauna of the marine environment from mining activities in the international Area of the deep
  • The requirement under UNCLOS that activities in the Area and marine scientific research must be
    carried out for the benefit of humankind as a whole;
  • The commitment of all countries under the United Nations Agenda 2030 Sustainable Development
    Goal (SDG) 14 on Life Under Water, in particular Target 14.2 to avoid significant adverse impacts
    on, strengthen the resilience of, and restore marine and coastal ecosystems; and under SDG 12 to
    Ensure Sustainable Consumption and Production Patterns;
  • The conclusion of the 2019 UN IPBES Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem
    Services that up to a million species are threatened with extinction and only through transformative
    change, also recommended by the IPCC and the IRP, can biodiversity and nature still be conserved,
    restored and used sustainably; and
  • The decision adopted by the Convention on Biological Diversity COP 14 which emphasized that
    mainstreaming biodiversity in the mining sector is essential for halting the loss of biodiversity and
    achieving the objectives of the SDGs and the Paris Agreement;

The DSCC holds that there should be a moratorium on: deep seabed mining; the adoption of seabed
mining regulations for exploitation (including the “International Seabed Authority Exploitation
Regulations”); and the issuing of exploitation and new exploration contracts, unless and until:

  • The environmental, social and economic risks are comprehensively understood;
  • It can be clearly demonstrated that deep seabed mining can be managed in such a way that ensures
    the effective protection of the marine environment and prevents loss of biodiversity;
  • Where relevant, there is a framework in place to respect the free, prior, informed consent of
    Indigenous peoples and to ensure consent from potentially affected communities;
  • Alternative sources for the responsible production and use of the metals also found in the deep sea
    have been fully explored and applied, such as reduction of demand for primary metals, a
    transformation to a resource efficient, closed-loop materials circular economy, and responsible
    terrestrial mining practices;
  • Public consultation mechanisms have been established and there is broad and informed public
    support for deep seabed mining, and that any deep seabed mining permitted by the International
    Seabed Authority fulfils the obligation to ‘benefit (hu)mankind as a whole’ and respects the
    Common Heritage of Mankind; and
  • Member States reform the structure and functioning of the International Seabed Authority to ensure
    a transparent, accountable, inclusive and environmentally responsible decision-making and
    regulatory process to achieve the above.
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DSCC Briefing on International Seabed Authority Draft Exploitation Regulations for Deep Seabed Mining – Duncan E J Currie | June 19

Analysis of Draft International Seabed Authority Exploitation Regulations – Duncan E J Currie | June 19

DSCC Briefing on ISA Observer Status | July 10

  • The DSCC submitted this briefing which contains response to and concerns around proposed on observer status at the International Seabed Authority.
  • Available in English.

DSCC Interventions

July 15 – Item 10 Report of Implementation of 2018 Decision of Council on Reports of LTC Chair

July 15 – Report of Financial Workshop 

July 15 – Draft Regulations Part 1

July 17 – Item 11: Draft Regulations

July 17 – Draft Regulations Part IV

July 22 – Item 6: Observer guidelines

July 23 – Item 9: Secretary-General report

July 24 – Item 10: High Level Action Plan

July 26 – Item 6: Observer guidelines

July 26 – Item 11: Commemoration of ISA’s 25th anniversary

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  • The Review of Environment Impact Assessments Under the Exploration Regulations: A cautionary tale – by Matthew Gianni co-founder, political and policy advisor for the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition.

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  • Environment Impact Assessments: International Seabed Authority 25th Annual Session – by Duncan Currie LL.B (Hons.) LL.M., Deep Sea Conservation Coalition

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To read the interventions delivered by DSCC during the 25th Annual Session of the ISA, click here.

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