deep sea mining

20 Jul 2022

Canada

  • Canada opened the day’s session by stating that they “Would like to confirm that there will be web transmission today” to which the Chair confirmed that WebTV was on.

France

  • France began by stating that they were attached to the ISA’s mandate of “managing protecting and using the resources of the area which are a common heritage of humanity, as well as its action, which has allowed for the conservation of the seabed and regulating the access and banning any activity which will lead to destruction of ecosystems”.
  • They went on to add that “we are all aware that our organization needs to heed the alarm bells that were launched in Lisbon.”
  • They highlighted that “we need to maintain dialogue with civil society” and the “crucial importance that we give to the measures pertaining to environmental protection and to protecting biodiversity.” They added that “from this point of view the Lisbon UN Conference on oceans that happened in June makes us think that there is a before Lisbon after Lisbon.”
  • France stated that they the adoption of a strong legal framework “is a prior condition before we authorize any plan of work.”
  • The delegation added that they wanted to remind that “it it has never interpreted the rule of the two years in June 2021 for the adoption of the mining code between now and June 2023 as an obligation for the Council to approve temporarily and automatically any plan of work which would be presented before as soon as of July 2022. It does not seem to be acceptable to authorise a plan of work to put exploitation of the resources in the area without a legal framework solid at protecting the marine environment and ensuring a sustainable use of the resources to the benefit of humanity as a whole and by banning any project which would lead to irrevocable destruction of the marine environment.”

Monaco

  • “I would like to support the French Declaration and say that the intervention of the ISA is in a field that is not explored enough and we are therefore convinced that scientific research and precautionary approach should lead us.”

Indonesia

  • The delegation highlighted the need to “involve coastal states whose interests are affected by deep-sea mining”. 

Costa Rica

  • Costa Rica highlighted that a Compliance Committee “should be established before the first exploitation contract is signed, for obvious reasons.”
19 Jul 2022

Views and Analysis

18-19 July 2022

Negotiations at the International Seabed Authority (ISA) to rush through a mining code for the emerging destructive deep-sea mining industry have begun this week in Jamaica, amid mounting concerns that the body charged with regulating the industry, were it to go ahead, is not fit for purpose.

The continuation of the ISA’s 27th Council meeting has seen civil society and scientists relegated to a windowless basement room, with a live feed to the main negotiating room at the Knutsford Hotel in Kingston.

Continue reading The problem with the ISA protecting the deep

18 Jul 2022

Spain 

  • The Spanish delegation referred to the UN Ocean Conference, stating that “…many voices were raised requesting that, due to the lack of scientific certainty of deep-sea mining effects on environment and need to protect biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction, we slow down the move toward exploitation of seabed mineral resources.”
  • They commented that they are in “agreement with this approach and support countries that share this concern and support protection of marine environments”. They added that Spain “have expressed previously that DSM shouldn’t begin until a regulatory framework that guarantees we will minimize effects before the contracts start running” and finished by stating that “my delegation is fully committed to developing regulations that guarantee effective protection of the environment in accordance with precautionary principle”.
  • However the delegation committed to developing ‘strong’ regulations. This is concerning as no matter how stringent regulations are, they would open the floodgates gates to destructive deep-sea mining

France 

  • In spite of President Emmanuel Macron’s statement at UNOC, the call for a stop to mining in the high seas has clearly not filtered through to the French delegation at the ISA. 
  • France also stated that scientific information collected by contractors is useful. “We continue to encourage the Secretariat toward providing clear access to science information and data for the scientific community, this is what makes science move ahead. Most data is supplied by contractors themselves and is very useful.” This is troubling as rather than contractors marking their own work, impartial deep sea science is critical.
  • Along with Morocco, France opposed reinstating the live broadcasting of the meeting on UN Web TV. When Costa Rica asked for a vote, both countries backed down from this position.

Chile, Canada, Costa Rica, Italy, Spain, Dominican Republic, NZ and Belgium

  • All called for full transparency in negotiations and the reinstatement of UN Web TV so that remote delegates, observers and media could follow meeting proceedings.

18 Jul 2022

Press Release

Source: Greenpeace

The International Seabed Authority (ISA) is fast-tracking regulations that could allow the deep sea mining industry to begin operations as early as July 2023. The regulations are being discussed at a meeting starting today in Kingston, Jamaica. An alliance of Pacific nations, along with scientists, youth groups, and civil society organizations, are calling for a moratorium on the industry, which could wreak havoc on one of the world’s most fragile ecosystems and exacerbate climate change.

18 Jul 2022

Press Release

Source: Deep Sea Conservation Coalition

The Deep Sea Conservation Coalition calls on member States of the International Seabed Authority to agree on a moratorium on the emerging destructive deep-sea mining industry as negotiations begin this week in Kingston, Jamaica.

Momentum for a moratorium on deep-sea mining continues to skyrocket globally as the International Seabed Authority (ISA), the body charged with regulating the nascent industry, continues the rush to mine the deep. The Authority’s Council and Assembly will meet from 18th July – 5th August. Central to their agenda is advancing a set of regulations that, if adopted, could see commercial deep-sea mining begin in as little as a year’s time.

The speculative industry received significant backlash at the recent UN Ocean Conference in Lisbon, Portugal, where governments, parliamentarians, youth groups and scientists all called for a halt to the industry. During the Conference, Palau launched an Alliance of Countries Calling for a Deep-Sea Mining Moratorium, with Fiji and Samoa joining;  Parliamentarians for Global Action launched a Global Parliamentary Declaration Calling for a Moratorium on Deep Seabed Mining and French president Emmanual Macron called for a stop to mining in the high seas.

Scientists continue to warn that if mining in the fragile deep were to go ahead, it would result in species extinctions and the irreversible destruction of habitats, not to mention as yet unquantified impacts on fisheries and the deep ocean’s capacity to sequester carbon. 

“The ISA’s mandate is clear. Under international law, the Authority must ensure the protection of the marine environment. The ISA cannot ignore the overwhelming body of scientific evidence that emphasizes the irreversible impacts the industry would have. If the protection of the marine environment cannot be ensured, then deep-sea mining cannot go ahead.”

Duncan Currie, Deep Sea Conservation Coalition legal advisor.

Would-be miners, The Metals Company, recently admitted the certainty of the net impacts the industry would have on the environment in their latest US Securities and Exchange Commission filing. The company stated that “Operations in the CCZ [the area of the Pacific Ocean earmarked for the first wave of commercial strip-mining] are certain to disturb wildlife and may impact ecosystem functioning.” Share prices of the prospective mining company have spiraled downward since their September 2021 merger, and continue to plummet as resistance gains traction. 

If deep-sea mining were to proceed, it could result in a loss of critical ecosystem functioning including critical carbon sequestration. The IPCC Sixth Assessment Report published in February this year warned of deep-sea mining as a potential future source of impacts on carbon sequestration in the deep.

“As the world faces up to the realities of the climate crisis and the urgent action needed to mitigate the worst impacts, pushing ahead with commercial resource extraction that would risk disturbing the planet’s largest carbon sinks is the height of irresponsibility”

Sian Owen Deep Sea Conservation Coalition Director.

Industry proponents claim that minerals strip-mined (or as they like to put it, “harvested”) from the deep are needed for batteries for smart technology. But the battery sector is rapidly moving in a different direction in the face of the environmental and social impacts of continued resource extraction. 

“If deep-sea mining were to begin, there would be no going back. Given the significant risks it poses to the marine environment, livelihoods, culture, the ecosystem functions that sustain us, and a complete absence of social license, the only justifiable way forward is a moratorium.”

Matthew Gianni, Deep Sea Conservation Coalition Co-Founder and Policy Advisor