seabed

17
Oct
2019

Source: The Scientist
Author: Catharine Offord

Researchers have discovered high levels of biodiversity in deep-sea plains in the Eastern Pacific Ocean—an area that’s already been divvied up by mining companies for commercial exploration. The study, published today (October 17) in Current Biology, describes several new taxa of brittle stars, relatives of sea stars, and warns that industrial exploitation of the region could lead to serious declines in these and many other poorly documented species.

Continue reading Proposed Deep-Sea Mining Zone Harbors Previously Unknown Species

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23
Sep
2019

Source: Scoop.nz
Author: Kiwis Against Seabed Mining

Wellington – 23 September 2019 — Kiwis Against Seabed Mining (KASM) and Greenpeace are in the Court of Appeal in Wellington this week, defending last year’s High Court ruling that quashed Trans-Tasman Resources’ (TTR) consent to mine the South Taranaki Bight seabed.

TTR is appealing the 2018 High Court decision that removed its consent to mine a 66 square kilometre area of the Bight for ironsands, which would involve digging up 50 million tonnes of the seabed a year for 35 years.

In granting its original consent, the Environmental Protection Agency set out 109 conditions, some of which amounted to “adaptive management” which KASM, Greenpeace and other parties argued to the High Court was unlawful, and Justice Churchman agreed.

This week the Court will hear TTR argue for mining to go ahead, and cross-appeals from KASM and Greenpeace, with the other parties, on a number of other issues the High Court decision rejected (see below).

Cindy Baxter, Chairperson of KASM, says this case is of utmost importance for preventing future seabed mining in New Zealand.

“This is a precedent-setting case, and it’s important to get the law as strong as possible, in order to protect our oceans from damage by future seabed miners. We cannot stress the importance of this case enough, in terms of the impact this destructive, untested industry could have on our ocean environment,” she said.

Jessica Desmond, campaigner at Greenpeace says it’s unacceptable the unique biodiversity of this region should be put at further risk from seabed mining.

“The South Taranaki Bight is home to Aotearoa’s own population of blue whales, the critically endangered Māui dolphin, blue penguins and other ocean taonga. These species are already under a multitude of threats from destructive fishing techniques, pollution and climate change, and this case is critical in protecting their home from damage by seabed mining.”

The case will be heard over three days between 24-26 September, and the two environmental organisations will be working alongside a range of other groups, including local iwi Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Ruanui, the trustees of Te Kaahui Rauru, Forest & Bird, the Taranaki-Whanganui Conservation Board, Te Ohu Kai Moana and a number of other fisheries interests.

The issues the two groups are cross-appealing include:

  • the application of the precautionary principle and international law;
  • the conduct of the hearing itself – including how the chairman of the EPA committee used his casting vote since there were four members, two of whom voted against granting consent;
  • the failure of the EPA to take economic costs as well as benefits into account;
  • the way the EPA dealt with issues around the effects of seabed mining crossing the boundary into the coastal marine area (within 12 miles from land); and
  • the failure to differentiate between a bond and public liability insurance

Timeline

Nov 2013: TTR applies to the EPA for a marine discharge consent for seabed mining
Mar 2014: EPA receives record number of submissions against any application in its history
Jun 2014: EPA refuses consent.
++++
Aug 2016: TTR re-applies for a marine discharge consent. Same area, same information.
Feb 2017: EPA hearings begin. Again, record submissions , again(13,700 against).
Aug 2017: EPA grants TTR consent
Apr 2018: KASM, Greenpeace et al appeal heard in the High Court
Aug 2018: High Court quashes TTR’s consent
Sep 2019: TTR takes case to Court of Appeal, other parties cross-appeal

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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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10
Jul
2019

Source: Greenpeace

If you follow artists and illustrators on Instagram, it is likely you’ve come across the #DrawThisInYourStyle challenge, where artists recreate others illustrations in their own unique style. Now the hashtag is being used to help bring to life a small, unique and unknown part of the ocean which is at risk from the mining industry. 

Continue reading How an Instagram hashtag is inspiring thousands to protect the deep sea

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8
Jul
2019

Source: EcoWatch
Author: Greenpeace

When it comes to being otherworldly, alien and bizarre, the ocean has plenty to fuel the imagination and make your jaw drop: giant scuttling bugs, jelly-like blobfish, slimy mucus-drenched hagfish, hairy armed lobsters and almost anything else you could imagine.

It’s no big surprise that Hollywood science fiction films so often look to the deep for their monsters, landscapes and mystery. After all, the deep ocean is more alien to us than the surface of the moon.

But bizarrely, some scientists think the ocean floor might well be the very place where life on our planet first evolved.

Continue reading here.

 

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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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