Key statements from States – 25/7/22
25 July 2022
- The delegation stated: ” New Zealand shares the concerns that others have expressed about the prospect of deep-sea mining occurring before we have appropriate safeguards in place. This includes robust regulations that ensure the effective protection of the marine environment and sufficient scientific knowledge of the deep ocean, which would allow for robust assessment of the environmental effects of this activity.”
- “It is New Zealand’s view that mining cannot and should not take place in the absence of these safeguards. New Zealand agrees with those who have expressed the view that paragraph 15 of Section One of the annex to the 1994 agreement does not require the council to adopt exploitation regulations at the end of the two year period. Nor does that require the council to automatically approve a plan of work at that time. Rather, this provision requires the council to make best endeavours to complete regulations within the prescribed timeframe. If that work remains unfinished at the end of the two year deadline, the council was not required to adopt regulations that remain incomplete.”
- “In saying this, New Zealand will continue to work in good faith in the development of regulations with a strong view to ensuring that any regulations adopted above all ensure the effective protection of the marine environment.”
- The delegation stated that “Test mining itself is likely to result in harm to the environment. In fact, to understand potential effects, it’s almost necessary that it will result in some harm.”
- The delegation called for the word “serious” to be deleted from regulations, commenting that serious harm is too high a threshold.
- New Zealand suggested a proactive approach to prevent unplanned events and that regulations currently only require monitoring and mitigation if harm or serious harm has already occurred, which may be too late.
- Mexico stated that “…Participation by an independent experts should not mean the responsibility is transferred from the contractor. It must be accountable for implementation and any insufficiencies in terms of that implementation. Mexico is not in favour of the plans being of the responsibility of the authority or third party. This is in line with the results based approach under which this draft regulation comes in, which is supported by delegation. In the same vein, my delegation stresses the importance of ramps before expedition activities understand that the planning activities cannot be started unless there’s a ramp in place in the area.”
- In line with interventions from France, Chile stated that “All this information must be transparent, published in a legible manner. We’ve had conversations with scientific experts present at ISA meetings, and many of them are not able to read the Deep Data information. I thought it was just me because I’m a bureaucrat… but the scientists themselves can’t either, so something is happening there. We are not fulfilling the responsibility under UNCLOS to publish in a transparent and understandable way the information we are compiling to the scientific community. The information is collected and provided, but we are falling down somewhere. We must fulfil our responsibilities under UNCLOS in this regard and provide the information that is required.”
- The delegation called to include marine litter and underwater noise in regulations.
- Chile called to delete the word ‘serious’ from regulations.
- The delegation called for “evaluation by independent experts” and called for evaluation to “cover the whole life cycle of contract.”
- Costa Rica warned that recent studies have shown that underwater noise as a result of deep-sea mining problem is larger than we previously thought.
- The delegation supported only using the word harm in regulations in line with Art. 145 to prevent “harmful effects” on the marine environment.
- Costa Rica called for independent auditors to be used.
- Costa Rica stated that the issue of effective control is vital.
Trinidad and Tobago
- Called for consideration to be “given to ecological characteristics and recovery time when considering time for independent monitoring.”
- The delegation supported others in removing the word ‘serious’ from regulations.
- The delegation called for independent monitoring in addition to monitoring undertaken by contractors and that “the monitoring conducted by the contractor is to occur for the entire duration of the exploitation phase of the mining operation.”
- The Canadian delegation raised concerns that test-mining “should not be used as a form of disguised exploitation.”
- The French delegation stated that test mining should be conducted in an area that reflects the zone of future exploitation.
- The delegation called for regulations to include marine litter and noise, hazards that are now better documented.
- France called for more clarity on how independent auditors will be chosen by the ISA.
- The UK delegation called for test mining to be regulated and have an EIA
- The delegation also commented that if you go test mining and it doesn’t show harmful effects, then you have effectively checked a box, but the effects of any test mining need to be fed into the larger process (EIAs and EIS) to ensure no harm is done.
- Italy called for test mining to be subjected to “robust environmental impact assessment procedures, similar to those envisaged in the exploitation regulations.”
- The delegation requested to keep marine litter and underwater noise in regulations as these are emerging threats to the underwater environment.
- Called for reference to chemical pollution
- Spain requested that noise and litter be included in regulations, which were “particularly important for the fishing sector.”
- Called for Auditors to be independent so that assessment is rigorous and useful.
- The delegation called to maintain references to noise & marine litter which could be generated by mining activities.
Federated States of Micronesia
- The delegation proposed “inserting a reference to the coastline in this draft regulation, because in article 145, which talks about the prevention, reduction, and control of pollution and other hazards associated with activities in the area, it does reference the coastline in connection with the marine environment.”
- FSM supported other delegations who called for removal of “serious” before harm. They asked delegations to consider the use of “serious harm” in other parts in draft regualtions.
Ghana (on behalf of African Group)
- The delegation called for the deletion of “serious” so that regulations encompass all harmful effects.
- Australia supported New Zealand’s proposal to delete ‘serious’ before the word ‘harm’ in regulations.
- Asked who would pay for damage to the marine environment if a contractor doesn’t have any funds to cover the damage.