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Critical deep sea mining meeting resumes as coalition of governments pushes for halt

Kingston, Jamaica – WEBWIRE

The International Seabed Authority (ISA) will bring governments together in Kingston to discuss whether to allow deep sea mining to go ahead, in a meeting starting today. Because of a failure to reach an agreement on mining regulations in previous meetings, starting on 9 July any company can present a plan to mine the seabed without those regulations in place.[1] A coalition of governments pushed back and for the first time in history requested that the ISA negotiate a proposal for a long term suspension on this dangerous activity. 

“Governments must put an immediate stop to this risky industry in order to secure long-term protection for the oceans. Reckless companies were hoping that by now a new dawn for this industry would’ve been seen, as the ISA has left the backdoor open for deep sea mining to start operating. But their bet backfired as deep sea miners have seriously underestimated the level of controversy and resistance to their attempt to force through the start of this destructive practice”, said Greenpeace France Oceans campaigner François Chartier, who is attending the meeting.

The governments of Chile, Costa Rica, France, Palau and Vanuatu have formally asked the ISA to discuss the need for a long-term suspension of deep sea mining at the Assembly meeting, 24-28 July.[2] The proposal put forward by this cross-regional coalition highlights that governments have an obligation to act to protect the marine environment from harm caused by deep sea mining, and that government decisions at the ISA must uphold, not undermine, their international climate and biodiversity commitments and the precautionary principle. The ISA Council meeting will negotiate next steps if a mining application is lodged. These negotiations will inform the meeting of the full ISA Assembly later this month.

“Right now, there’s very little standing between the natural wonders of the deep ocean and the mining machines, but more governments are listening to the science and stepping up efforts to stop deep sea mining from starting this year. However, a handful of laggards are doing the opposite – like announcing plans to mine the Arctic seabed. It’s a matter of urgency that states gathered in Kingston give these unique and unknown areas the protection they need from this destructive industry”, said Chartier. 

We’re seeing an unprecedented wave of governments voicing concerns about the impacts of deep sea mining. A few weeks ago Switzerland, Sweden and Ireland came out calling for precautionary pause.[3] Pacific activists and scientists have also been sounding the alarm about this threat to the oceans. Meanwhile, Norway has not only consistently enabled the industry’s agenda to determine the decision-making process at the ISA, but also recently announced plans to open its continental shelf to deep sea mining.[4] This stands in stark contradiction to being a leader of the International Ocean Panel and shows an alarming level of discredit towards the growing scientific warnings about the impact this industry could cause.[5]

“The ISA’s mandate is to protect the oceans, but the close connection between its authorities and the industry has left the credibility of this institution hanging by a thread. If governments are serious about their environmental credentials, they have to say no to deep sea mining — no ifs, no buts. They either allow an entirely new extractive industry to start in the middle of an ecological crisis, or they do the right thing for once. This is the moment to take the wind out of the sails of an industry that has no future”, said Chartier. 


Photo and video for press available via the Greenpeace Media Library


[1] In 2021, the president of Nauru together with The Metals Company’s subsidiary Nauru Ocean Resources,  triggered the “two-year rule” that puts pressure on governments at the ISA to allow deep sea mining to start by July 2023. This request was made under paragraph 15 of Section 1 of the Annex to the Agreement relating to the implementation of Part XI of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea which establishes that if any member country notifies the ISA that it wants to start deep sea mining, the organisation will have two years to adopt full regulations, after which time, if the regulations have not been completed, the ISA will have to consider a mining application. The ISA’s deadline to adopt full regulations ends this July, and the legal process after the deadline is passed is subject to political and legal debate. 

[2]  International Seabed Authority: Supplementary list of agenda items for the twenty-eighth session of the Assembly 

[3] Swiss want moratorium on deep-sea mining; Sweden says no to deep sea mining before more knowledge is available; Ireland calls for a precautionary pause of deep-sea mining on the international seabed

[4] Norway moves to open its waters to deep-sea mining

[5] Leading Scientists Urge Moratorium on Deep-Sea Mining: Explore Recycling and Terrestrial Resources First

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