The DSCC are recruiting for a new Head of Operations to support our work to protect the health of the deep from the key threats it faces.
If you’re interested in joining the team and ensuring that the organization runs smoothly and effectively, take a look at the terms of reference for the position here.
If you are interested in applying for this role, please send a written CV and cover note to Ronna@savethehighseas.org. Please get in touch if you have any questions or would like to discuss the role in more detail.
This week, from August 2-3, in New York, a United Nations workshop will explore how far States have come in safeguarding fragile deep sea ecosystems from the damage caused by industrial deep sea bottom trawl fishing. The DSCC calls on the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) to finish the job the UNGA began in 2004 and insist that high seas fishing nations protect deep-sea biodiversity.
Negotiations have begun to develop a mining code that, if adopted, could see the largest extractive operation in human history begin in the deep sea. But as negotiations get underway, the chorus of concern surrounding the emerging industry has amplified.
Six years after the adoption of the EU deep-sea fishing Regulation that prohibited bottom trawling below 800 meters in EU waters, the EU has finally adopted an ‘Implementing Act’ to begin closing coldwater coral and other biologically diverse deep-sea vulnerable marine ecosystems (VMEs) below 400 meters depth to bottom fishing.
Civil society welcomes this long-awaited protection of VMEs. The adopted protective measures are, however, already under threat.
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.
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, the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition’s 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, the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition’s Co-Founder and Policy Advisor.
“Deep-sea mining is not a question we can ask today because it is completely out of the question in the coming decades”, said the Minister of Economy & Sea for Portugal, António Costa Silva, “We don’t know very well how the sea works. We know 5% of the sea. We need to know the dynamics of the oceans first”.
The minister was in the Azores, having had a meeting with the regional government to discuss, among other things, the creation of an Atlantic University in the archipelago, “to attract international researchers”.
As resistance to the emerging destructive deep-sea mining industry continues to skyrocket in Lisbon this week at the UN Ocean Conference, French President Emmanuel Macron has called for a stop to mining in the high seas.
Speaking at an official conference side event held at the Lisbon Oceanarium, President Macron stated: “We have to create the legal framework to stop high seas mining and not to allow new activities that endanger ecosystems.”
Throughout the week at the UN Ocean Conference, the controversial issue of deep-sea mining has been high on the agenda with politicians, youth groups, scientists and civil society all calling to defend the deep and stop the nascent industry in its tracks.
“The momentum created this week at the UN Ocean Conference is a tipping point for the deep ocean, the blue heart of our planet. President Macron has effectively echoed the countless calls this week to press ‘pause’ on any and all ambitions to mine the deep sea.”
Sian Owen, Director of the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition
“The UN Ocean Conference has shaped up to be a watershed event for the protection of the ocean with the increasing calls for a moratorium or ban on deep-sea mining.”
Matthew Gianni, co-founder of the DSCC.
In his speech today, President Macron referred to a statement by the new Australian Minister of the Environment, Tanya Plibersek, earlier this week, who stated that with the new government ‘Australia is back’ when it comes to protecting the environment. In the 1980s, France and Australia combined forces to change the course of negotiations to open up the Antarctic continent to mining and convinced the other countries involved in the negotiations to agree to a moratorium on mining in Antarctica. The DSCC’s Matthew Gianni commented: “I can’t help but think President Macron may have been signalling to the Australian government that they try it again, this time to protect the global ocean commons from the same destructive industry, before it starts.”
Scientists continue to raise the alarm that if the industry were to go ahead, it would result in an irreversible loss of biodiversity and could threaten critical carbon stocks, potential medicines and fisheries for species such as tuna.
As the backlash surrounding the destructive industry builds, so do concerns that the International Seabed Authority, the body charged with regulating the emerging industry, is not transparent or fit for purpose. Earlier in the week at an event hosted by the Authority, a peaceful protest consisting of the quiet display of A4 signs, with the message, “Deep-Sea Mining: stop and think”, resulted in UN security threatening to remove delegates from the conference and confiscate their badges. Civil society has also protested the Authority’s lack of transparency as new restrictions on participation at upcoming deep-sea mining meetings in July and August have been introduced, closing the door on negotiations for many stakeholders at what would be a critical juncture. In a joint letter to the ISA Secretary General, 31 civil society organizations called on the Authority to lift the restrictions or else postpone the meetings to ensure that as many states, civil society organizations, journalists and others can make their voices heard.
It is now vital that the frontrunners of this political movement take the moratorium call to the International Seabed Authority and other international fora as the year goes on. The world is watching.
Today, would-be miners, The Metals Company, submitted an updated registration statement to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
Businesses are obliged by law to present an honest summary of the potential risks for investors and if businesses are found to have withheld information on the financial risks of their enterprise, they may face legal consequences.
The statement reveals the fragility of the business and the prospective deep-sea mining industry as a whole, and strongly implies that the business (and the industry) may not be viable. It recognizes the certainty of adverse environmental impacts and the lack of scientific understanding of the deep-sea environment.
No seafloor polymetallic nodule deposit has ever been commercially collected, and our offshore collection technology and development plans and processes may not be sufficient to accomplish our objectives.
We have a limited operating history, and there can be no assurance that we will be able to commercially develop our resource areas or achieve profitability in the future.
Actual capital costs, financing strategies, operating costs, production and economic returns may differ significantly from those we have anticipated and there can be no assurance that any future development activities will result in profitable metal production operations.
Some of the offshore equipment that we will need to accomplish our objectives has not been manufactured and/or tested.
The polymetallic nodules that we may recover will require specialized treatment and processing, and there is no certainty that such processes will result in a recovery of metals that is consistent with our expectations.
Our business is subject to a variety of risks, some of which may not be covered by our future or existing insurance policies.
We expect that our losses will continue until we achieve profitable commercial production. Although NORI expects to achieve early-stage commercial production around 2024, there can be no assurance that it will be able to commercially develop these properties or that it will be able to generate profits in the future.
Mineral resource estimates from the contract areas of NORI and TOML are only estimates. You are cautioned not to assume that all or any part of an inferred mineral resource exists, or that it can be economically or legally commercialized. Uncertainty in our estimates of polymetallic nodule deposits could result in lower-than-expected revenues and higher costs.
The grade and quality of the polymetallic nodule deposits that we intend to develop are estimates that may prove to be inaccurate, and there are no guarantees that such deposits will be suitable for collecting or commercialization. Our business is subject to significant risks, and we may never develop minerals in sufficient grade or quantities to justify commercial operations.
The prevailing market prices of nickel, manganese, copper, cobalt, and other commodities will have a material impact on our ability to achieve commercial success. The price of nickel, manganese, copper, cobalt etc has fluctuated widely in recent years.
We may be adversely affected by fluctuations in demand for nickel, manganese, copper, cobalt, and other commodities. Technology changes rapidly in the industries that utilize our materials. If these industries introduce new technologies or products that no longer require the metals that we intend to collect and process, or if suitable substitutes become available, it could result in a decline in demand for our metal products. Changes in demand for minerals could significantly affect our profitability.
Negative perceptions related to the collection of polymetallic nodules could have a material adverse effect on our business. Some companies in the EV supply chain have recently expressed reservations about using battery metals derived from deep-sea minerals, pending more research on the impacts of deep-sea mineral extraction operations on marine biodiversity and ecosystem function.
Operations in the CCZ are certain to disturb wildlife and may impact ecosystem function. Impacts on CCZ biodiversity may never be completely and definitively known. It may also not be possible to definitively say whether the impact of nodule collection on global biodiversity will be less significant than those estimated for land-based mining.
Parties engaged in collection operations may be required to compensate those suffering loss or damage from nodule collection operations.
We may become subject to environmental liabilities as a result of noncompliance or newly imposed regulations.
Compliance with any future laws, rules, regulations, and policies could negatively impact our profitability.