International Seabed Authority

1
Mar
2019

Source: The Maritime Executive
Author: Jessica Aldred

It’s one of the coldest, darkest places on earth, full of marine life – much of which is yet to be discovered – with a seabed rich in mineral deposits.

In the last decade, the floor of the deep ocean that lies outside the jurisdiction of any one country has been increasingly explored. A number of parties are assessing the size and extent of mineral deposits that could provide raw materials for everything from batteries and jet engines to wind turbines and mobile phones.

Continue reading The Future of Deep Seabed Mining

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1
Mar
2019

Source: The Globe and Mail
Author: Amy O’Kruk

Deep in the North Pacific Ocean, in an area as wide as the United States, billions of potato-sized rocks litter the ocean floor. These lumpy, black-brown balls are full of cobalt, nickel, copper and manganese – valuable minerals that are crucial for electronics and evolving green technologies, such as electric cars and solar panels.

Continue reading The new frontier: deep-sea mining

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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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28
Feb
2019

Source: ChinaDialogue Ocean
Author: Ned Pennant-Rea

The UN has described the deep sea as “the largest source of species and ecosystem diversity on Earth.” Life thrives particularly on the vast expanses of sea floor known as abyssal plains, amid the submarine mountains that rise from them and around superheated springs. Extremes of temperature and pressure have proved no obstacle to the creatures here. But plans to commercially mine the seabed pose a grave threat to their survival.

Continue reading Species threatened by deep-sea mining

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25
Feb
2019

The Deep Sea Conservation Coalition (DSCC) is attending the 25th Annual Session of the International Seabed Authority (ISA), which commenced today. The ISA is an UN–appointed body responsible for managing the riches of the deep seabed for the “common heritage of mankind” and oversees the potential commercialization of resources from the high seas, such as through deep seabed mining. At the start of the meeting, Algeria delivered a strong statement on behalf of the African Group, which consists of 47 African nations.

“We understand that there is a timeline to respect, but there are also other constraints and we should avoid rushing without a proper and meticulous regulatory process. We would like to recall, in this regard, words pronounced by Peter Thomson, Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-General for the Ocean, at the Ocean Day 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.”

Read the full African Group statement here and read the DSCC’s interventions to the ISA here.

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