deep sea mining

27
Jul
2019

PRESS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
27th JULY, 2019 

Kingston, Jamaica – 27th July 2019 – The International Seabed Authority (ISA) concluded its two week annual meeting yesterday following a round of speeches to mark the 25th Anniversary of the organization. The Deep Sea Conservation Coalition (DSCC) called on the member countries of the ISA to shift priorities to properly protect the deep ocean, which makes up 90% of the marine environment. 

The ISA has served a critical role since its inception, under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, to ensure that unregulated mining in the international areas of world’s ocean does not occur. Currently only regulations that allow for exploration for minerals are in force. 

During discussions over the past two weeks, ISA members continued debating draft mining regulations to enable commercial seabed mining to take place. Countries had previously set 2020 as the target for adopting the commercial regulations. However, many countries this week voiced concern over rushing the negotiations to meet that deadline. While the regulations may not be adopted next year, many countries expressed support for making the transition from ‘exploration’ to ‘exploitation’ of the deep sea within the next few years. 

“We’re calling on States to reconsider whether they should permit deep seabed mining in the first place, given how little we know about deep-sea ecosystems, and whether it is even possible to mine the deep ocean and prevent the loss of species and biodiversity” said Matthew Gianni, co-founder of the DSCC. 

States agreed to amend provisions to a key operational document adopted by the ISA this week. This could allow for the public release of contracts and the annual reports, which are currently kept confidential, on activities undertaken in the deep sea by the companies and countries that have exploration licenses with the ISA. 

A proposal for highly restrictive guidelines for NGO attendance at meetings of the ISA was soundly rejected by member States, with many countries expressing concerns that reducing observer participation would discourage transparency and accountable decision-making. Nonetheless, the key advisory body of the ISA, the Legal and Technical Commission, continues 

to meet behind closed doors in spite of a decision by member countries of the ISA two years ago that it should hold open meetings. 

“This underlines the very difficult job of negotiating robust, transparent and effective regulations for the deep sea,” said Duncan Currie, an international lawyer who attended the annual meeting for the DSCC. “Many States appreciate the need for inclusive, transparent regulations that will ensure the effective protection of the marine environment.” 

Calls for a moratorium on deep-seabed mining are gaining support. In May of this year, the Long Distance Advisory Council of the European Union, whose members include representatives of the EU’s high seas and distant water fishing fleets, trade unions and NGOs, called for a moratorium on ISA sponsored deep-seabed mining. This follows similar calls made by the European Parliament in 2018, the UN’s Special Envoy for the Oceans, Greenpeace, the Deep Sea Mining Campaign and others. The UK Parliament’s Environmental Audit Committee released a report in January of this year, concluding that “deep-sea mining would have catastrophic impacts on the seafloor site and its inhabitants,” and that “the case for deep-sea mining has not yet been made”. 

Scientists continue to raise serious concerns over the potential impact of seabed mining on deep-sea species and ecosystems. In a letter this week to the ISA, scientists warned that deep seabed mining could cause irreversible and inevitable harm to marine life, including extinctions of species, and drive the climate crisis by disrupting ‘blue carbon’ stored in the seabed. The ISA now has an unprecedented opportunity to shift its current pro-mining agenda to become a champion for the research, understanding and protection of the deep-sea environment for the benefit of humankind. 

— END — 

Contacts: Matthew Gianni matthewgianni@gmail.com +31-646 168 899 

Duncan Currie duncanc@globelaw.com 

Website: www.savethehighseas.org Twitter: @DeepSeaConserve

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27
Jul
2019

Source: Les Echos
Author: Jean-Michel Gadt

Alors que l’Autorité internationale des fonds marins compte finaliser son code minier sous-marin pour 2020, la Deep Sea Conservation Coalition appelle la communauté internationale, au nom du principe de précaution, à un moratoire sur l’octroi de licences d’exploitation pour l’extraction minière en eau profonde.

Continue reading here.

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26
Jul
2019

Meeting of the 25th Session of the Assembly of the International Seabed Authority: Commemoration of ISA’s 25th Anniversary

26 July 2019

Madam President,

We welcome the opportunity to join you and others to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Authority.  As we have indicated previously, the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) has sounded the alarm on the state of planetary biodiversity and ecosystems, warning of the impending extinction of a million species. IPBES identifies the alteration or loss of habitat, in addition to climate change and other factors, as responsible for the threats to our planet’s biodiversity. We are increasingly recognizing that we are in the grip of a biodiversity emergency as well as a climate emergency which we ignore at our peril.

The ISA has served a critical role since its inception to ensure that unregulated exploitation of the international seabed does not occur. As the 1994 Part XI Agreement and 1995 UN Fish Stocks Agreement showed, and as the BBNJ negotiations currently underway have underlined, the Convention is not a static instrument. It is, and must be, responsive to scientific, technological, political and environmental developments.

Scientists are now warning that deep-sea mining, as currently envisioned, is likely to cause irreversible loss of biodiversity, an issue we have consistently highlighted in our interventions and side events here at the ISA over the past several years. Last year, 50 NGOs endorsed a submission to the ISA calling for a process to investigate the fundamental question of whether there is a need for deep seabed mining and its long term consequences for the planet and humankind and, in the meantime, to end the granting of contracts for deep-sea mining exploration and to not issue contracts for exploitation.

As others have noted, there are calls for a moratorium on seabed mining unless and until the environmental, social and economic risks are comprehensively understood, effective protection of the marine environment can be ensured, and biodiversity loss can be prevented. These include calls from NGOs, the European Parliament and the European Union’s Long-Distance Fishing Fleet Advisory Council, calls also echoed by the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy for the Oceans as noted by the African Group in Council earlier this year. These are not unreasonable concerns nor unreasonable calls.

The UN 2030 Sustainable Development Goals are globally important commitments, including SDG 12 on sustainable consumption and production patterns and SDG 14 on oceans, including Target 14.2 committing states to restore and strengthen the resilience of marine ecosystems. The Decade of Ocean Science presents an important opportunity for States and the ISA to work with the ocean community to enhance research of deep-sea species and ecosystems and the role of the deep ocean in regulating planetary environmental processes as recognized by the United Nation’s First World Ocean Assessment, including the carbon cycle, and to help protect deep-sea biodiversity from the multiple threats posed by climate change, ocean acidification, plastics, pollution and other ocean stressors.

In closing, this 25th anniversary is an opportunity for States to pause and reflect. We urge States to think carefully about the direction they wish to take the ISA in the next 25 years. We look forward to a future in which the international community of nations through the ISA collectively become champions for the enhanced research, understanding and protection of the environment in the Area for the benefit of humankind as a whole, both for present and future generations.

Thank-you Madam President

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25
Jul
2019

Source: Ekklesia

Marine scientists from around the world have issued a stark warning about the emerging industry of deep sea mining, stating that its development “puts the overall health of ocean ecosystems under threat” and could contribute to climate breakdown. Greenpeace activists went to the International Seabed Authority (ISA) annual meeting in Kingston, joined by the members of Jamaica Environment Trust and representatives of several other Jamaican civil society organisations, to deliver a  letter of concern by 28 scientists from eight countries to the participants of the meeting. A banner was unfurled at the event which said “No deep sea mining” as Greenpeace demands protection of the sea bed and global oceans. 

Continue reading Scientists sound alarm about ‘destructive’ deep sea mining

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