Today three EU Fisheries Advisory Councils issued joint recommendations to the European Commission and EU Member States on deep-sea mining in international waters.
The membership of the lead Advisory Council – the Long Distance (Fishing) Fleet Advisory Council (LDAC) – consists of associations of fishing companies and fleets that represent a large portion of the EU’s high seas and distant water fishing fleets operating in the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans, (including in areas where the ISA has issued exploration licenses) as well as trade unions, environmental organizations and other non-industry stakeholders.
The Advisory Councils detail their concerns and make a number of recommendations, including the following:
6.3. PROHIBITION OF MINING EXPLOITATION
A prohibition on exploitation by the ISA of marine minerals in the international seabed area before the effects of deep-sea mining on the marine environment, biodiversity, and human activities have been sufficiently researched and the risks are better understood
They also called on the European Commission to “cease funding for the development of seabed mining technology in line with a circular economy based on minimizing, reusing, and recycling minerals and metals, in line with the precautionary principle, and taking into account the resolution of 9 June 2021 adopted by the European Parliament.”
6.4. PERFORMANCE REVIEWS AND TRANSPARENCY
The Advisory Councils also pointed to “an objective need to review the ISA working methods and its decision-making” citing “major concerns regarding the level of transparency, sharing of data and contractor information, economic interests of sponsoring states (in particular SIDS) and the decision-making structure of the ISA.”
6.6. INTERPRETATION OF ACTIVATION OF THE TRIGGER CLAUSE FOR EXPLOITATION
On the so-called two-year trigger rule, the Advisory Councils stated that “In our view, the [ISA] Council could say “no” to an application for a plan of work under Section 1, paragraph 15 (c) of the 2-year rule if the exploitation regulations have not been adopted by then… States members of the ISA should take control of the interpretation of this clause and decide how it will be operationalized, particularly in light of the obligations contained in UNCLOS Article 145…”
The Advisory Council also expressed support for the concerns raised by the African Group of member countries of the ISA and called on the EU and Member States to support the African Group position and for the reform of the ISA.
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