Brussels, 10 June 2021. This week, on World Ocean Day, the European Parliament adopted the Union’s strongest position yet on the highly contested prospect of deep-sea mining. The Resolution adopted by the European Parliament is in response to the European Commission’s Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 published in May 2020.
Specific to deep-sea mining, the European Parliament is calling on the Commission and EU Member States to promote a moratorium on deep-sea mining until it can be managed to ensure that there is no loss of marine biodiversity or degradation of marine ecosystems. Moreover, the Resolution calls on the Commission to cease funding for the development of seabed mining technology, consistent with the ambition to move swiftly towards a circular economy, and calls on the Commission to ensure transparency at the International Seabed Authority, the United Nations agency responsible for issuing mining licences. It further calls for the effective protection and preservation of the marine environment in line with United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
The Parliament’s Resolution has been adopted with overwhelming support, with 515 votes to 90, and 86 abstentions.
The DSCC, representing some 100 civil society groups around the world, welcomes this position adopted by Parliament. “We are seeing a growing movement around the world opposing deep-sea mining,says Sian Owen, Director of the DSCC.
From scientists, coastal communities and youth movements expressing their support for a moratorium on deep-sea mining, to banks and companies such as BMW, Volvo Group, Google and Samsung pledging not to source minerals from the deep ocean, there is little appetite from our global society to open the deep sea as an extractive frontier. This news is further testimony to the lack of support across Europe for this speculative and destructive industry that would put our ocean under further stress.Sandrine Polti, EU Policy Advisor to the DSCC added,
We fully expect the European Commission and EU member states to heed this call to action for a moratorium on deep-sea mining. The Commission and EU Member States have made multiple pledges over the years to halt biodiversity loss and move to a truly just and circular economy. It is time that those pledges are translated into leadership on the global stage.
The current rush to mine the deep sea by some companies and States poses a real and potentially imminent threat to ancient habitats in the deep ocean. These ecosystems have taken millions of years to form, are home to countless undiscovered species, and play an important role in providing ecosystem services to the wider ocean and the planet. For example, among the many impacts, mining the deep-sea risks disturbing the world’s biggest carbon reservoir.
We must fully understand the consequences of this high-risk industry before allowing it to go ahead. As it stands, the science is simply not in place to make an informed decision that can reassure the world that deep-sea mining is safe. The only thing that is certain is that deep-sea mining will irreversibly destroy deep-sea habitats. The people of Europe have spoken, the European Commission and EU member states must step up by urgently and unequivocally calling for a moratorium on deep-sea mining.concludes Polti.