Civil society calls for urgent action to protect the deep from destructive deep-sea mining

Date: September 14, 2022

DSCC Reaction

For immediate release – 14.9.22

The Deep Sea Conservation Coalition (DSCC) is calling for an urgent intervention by the international community to protect the deep ocean from harm.

This follows an announcement by The Metals Company (TMC), which claims that the International Seabed Authority (ISA) at the last minute has approved a plan by the company to test deep-sea mining (DSM) equipment in the Pacific Ocean this month in spite of many concerns raised by scientists, NGOs and States regarding the test mining plans. The ISA, which has an obligation under international law to “act on behalf of” and “for the benefit of” the whole of humankind, has not issued any public notice of its approval. This apparent decision comes despite the widespread and growing concern by scientists, parliamentarians, NGOs, corporations and some States to the advancement of DSM in the international areas of the ocean, and in the wake of a recent New York Times article (August 29 2022) calling into serious question the credibility and ability of the ISA as a regulatory body to ensure the protection of the deep ocean. It is the latest in a series of media investigations raising concerns about the body in charge of the planet’s deep ocean and underscores the need for urgent international action.

The Metals Company claims that it has been given the green light by the Legal and Technical Commission (LTC) of the ISA to begin test mining. This appears to have been done without  open and transparent consultation with the State Parties to the ISA and relevant stakeholders.

The DSCC calls for the testing approval to be rescinded; independent scientific advice be obtained; and that the revised Environmental Impact Assessment and Environment Management and Monitoring Plan submitted by TMC to the ISA is re-examined in its entirety and made available to the countries that are members of the ISA and all interested stakeholders for public scrutiny, discussion and comment. 

This is a pivotal moment for the ISA as an institution, and it is facing greater scrutiny than ever before. As a result of this and the fundamental concerns expressed by over 650 scientists about the far-reaching and irreversible implications of mining, the DSCC and its 100+ member organizations call on the international community to: 

  1. Call for an investigation into the allegations outlined in a number of reports in the media and elsewhere over the past year (see select links below);
  2. Join the growing group of countries, parliamentarians and other government officials  calling for a moratorium or precautionary pause on deep-sea mining;
  3. Agree to vote against issuing any provisional contracts to allow DSM after July 2023 if the ISA’s “exploitation” regulations have not been adopted by then;
  4. Call for review and reform of the ISA at the next meeting of the Assembly of the ISA and/or at the UN General Assembly and other international fora.

Recent press
– https://www.nytimes.com/2022/08/29/world/deep-sea-mining.html
– https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/22266044-seabed-mining-selected-documents-2022
– https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2022-04-19/gold-rush-in-the-deep-sea-raises-questions-about-international-seabed-authority
– https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-06-24/a-mining-startup-s-rush-for-underwater-metals-comes-with-deep-risks
– https://www.wsj.com/articles/environmental-investing-frenzy-stretches-meaning-of-green-11624554045

Relevant reports and publications
– http://www.deepseaminingoutofourdepth.org/wp-content/uploads/Why-the-Rush.pdf
– https://www.savethehighseas.org/resources/publications/deep-sea-mining-factsheets/

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