The DSCC in the news

5
Jul
2019

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Friday 5 July 2019

Countries fishing on the high seas of the Indian Ocean have continued to seriously fail to uphold their commitments to protect deep-sea ecosystems from deep water bottom fishing,  said the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition (DSCC), as a fisheries management meeting for the Southern Indian Ocean came to an end today (5 July 2019).

At the conclusion of the Southern Indian Ocean Fisheries Agreement (SIOFA) annual meeting in Mauritius, the DSCC, which represents over 80 non-governmental organizations, called on the body to seriously step up its protection of deep-sea ecosystems, vulnerable marine ecosystems, deep-sea sharks and toothfish. Deep-sea trawling continues to be permitted on seamounts in the region with inadequate constraints in place to protect deep-sea corals, sponges and other biodiversity hot spots.

Duncan Currie of the DSCC, who attended the meeting, said: “The inadequate decisions reached fail to adequately protect deep-sea ecosystems and species at a time when we know that we must escalate our collective efforts to protect the whole ocean. Governments need to step up and resist pressure by industry to weaken protection.”

The meeting addressed contentious issues, including the rapid increases in toothfish fishing by Spanish vessels in southern parts of the SIOFA area, adjacent to areas managed by CCAMLR, the international body for managing the Southern Ocean ecosystem. CCAMLR has taken measures to better manage its toothfish stocks. Also controversial was the decision to permit a bycatch of fragile sponges amounting 300 kg limit per trawl tow, over the recommended 60 kg limit. A DSCC request to reinsert a ban on removal of shark fins was rejected. The organization did agree a high seas inspection and boarding regime, which DSCC welcomes.

Duncan Currie said: “These fisheries agreements are supposed to protect vulnerable marine ecosystems such as sponges, not sanction their destruction.”

ENDS

The Southern Indian Ocean Fisheries Agreement (SIOFA) was signed in Rome the 7th July 2006 and entered into force in June 2012. To date, SIOFA has nine Contracting Parties: Australia, the Cook Islands, the European Union, France on behalf of its Indian Ocean Territories, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Mauritius, the Seychelles and Thailand.

 

For further information please contact:

Duncan Currie in Mauritius on +64 21 632 335, duncanc@globelaw.com
or
Matt Gianni on +31-646 168 899, matthewgianni@gmail.com

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2
Jul
2019

Source: Financial Times
Author: Henry Sanderson

Deep-sea mining risks “severe and potentially irreversible” environmental harm and the UK should prioritise protecting the ocean rather than extracting minerals from it, Greenpeace said. The government has awarded deep-sea exploration licences to a subsidiary of Lockheed Martin, which could lead to deep-sea mining despite Westminster being aware of the environmental risks, the environmental group said.

Continue reading Deep-sea mining risks ‘irreversible’ harm, warns Greenpeace

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29
May
2019

Source: EU Reporter

The International Seabed Authority, an intergovernmental organization established under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, is in the process of developing regulations that would permit mining the international areas of the deep ocean seabed.

Continue reading Fisheries and environmental organizations issue joint call for moratorium on #DeepSeaMining

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1
Mar
2019

DSCC representatives Duncan Currie and Matthew Gianni attended the International Seabed Authority Ad Hoc Working Group on Financial Matters, followed by a special Council meeting in Kingston, Jamaica, from 21 February to 1 March, 2019.

At the Working Group, the DSCC asked repeatedly how the 1% figure earmarked for the environment had been derived. The DSCC said that an accurate valuation of deep sea ecosystem services and damage to biodiversity is key, and emphasized that the Liability Fund would need to be fully funded before any mining begins. “It is essential that all funds for the environment, including liability funds, are paid by deep-sea miners, not by the Common Heritage of Mankind,” said Duncan Currie. “The work on valuing the deep sea and the inevitable loss of biodiversity from mining has not even begun.”

At the Council meeting, the DSCC insisted that the precautionary principle must be binding, that workshops must be open to all participants, and that there should be an Environment or Scientific Committee in place. Equally important for transparency, the Legal and Technical Commission should hold its meetings in open session and there should be virtual webinars to facilitate participation. Additionally, the DSCC noted that standards must be binding and that regional environmental management plans must be in place before any mining applications are accepted.

“It is unacceptable that the powerful Legal and Technical Commission holds its meetings behind closed doors,” said Matthew Gianni, “and it is long past time that an Environment or Scientific Committee was formed.”

The DSCC was, however, encouraged by an intervention by the African Group, which stated that “ We would like to recall, in this regard, words pronounced by Peter Thomson, Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-General for the Ocean…in Davos last month, ‘There is a UN decade for Ocean science, which has been agreed to by 193 countries […] in the General Assembly in December 2017, and that decade will run from 2021 to 2030 […] why wouldn’t we give that decade its full run before we start even thinking about disturbing the seabed of the high seas, we are talking moratorium of 10 years in that case’. These words are food for thought to all of us.”

The DSCC hosted a side event about environmental impact assessments – a critical measure toward ensuring the effective protection of the marine environment. The event focused on the importance of public independent scientific advice and expert examination of all environmental documents, with stakeholder participation.

During the meeting, Nauru gave its national microphone to deep-sea mining company DeepGreen, which made numerous unsubstantiated claims, including that deep-sea mining is needed for renewable energy and that it will stop when it has enough. Yet DeepGreen has asked for the suggested 30 year mining period to be extended. Belgium then handed its microphone (normally the privilege and responsibility of a government representing its national interests) to its contractor – Deme – which insisted that was not intending to “mine” but to “harvest” deep-sea minerals.

“We, and many others, were shocked that Belgium and Nauru handed over their microphones to their sponsored contactors,” said DSCC coordinator, Sian Owen. “It is unacceptable for countries to cede their voice to corporate entities. Governments are expected to represent the broad interests of their entire citizenry. Corporate actors have much narrower private interests. We are seeking confirmation that Belgium stands behind Deme’s claims. If not, they must repudiate them”.

The ISA Council and Assembly meet again from 15-26 July 2019.

DSCC interventions (speeches) and presentations are available at http://www.savethehighseas.org/resources/publications/dscc-interventions-to-the-international-seabed-authority-for-the-25th-annual-session-in-february-2019/

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