DSCC Interventions – 1.11.22

Date: 1 November 2022

Informal working group on Inspection, Compliance and Enforcement

DR 102

We join other delegates in expressing our condolences and sympathies for the people of India and South Korea for the tragic events.

We agree with the Netherlands that monitoring of environmental effects should not be qualified by ‘where technically feasible”. 

In paragraph 2 bis the term “Plume dispersal” is too narrow and fails to account for plume trajectory, composition and biological effects, including the effects of chemical contamination of the water column In general there is no reference to species, either on the seabed or in the water column.

Secondly, in paragraph 2 (bis) we join the concerns of delegations including Costa Rica that the inclusion of adaptive management here is misplaced.Adaptive management must not be used where it is inconsistent with the precautionary approach – such as when there is inadequate information, which is indeed the case, and where the damage could be serious.

Thank you, Madam Facilitator,

DR 103

The excessively permissive nature of these regulations is seen in para 4, where the contractor is given the opportunity to make representations, following which the Compliance notice may be withdrawn.  

There are no provisions for Council members, observers or others to make representations. This is essential to transparency. There is no basis for only allowing the contractor to make representations and not to allow others to do so as well. In addition, any representation should be made public. 

This highlights one critical reason that the DSM regulations must not be adopted: contracts may be in existence for many decades, yet even serious, persistent or wilful violations may not give rise to termination of a contract.

In paragraph 6, seriousness of the violation does not itself include environmental effects consequent on the violation. This gives rise to issues of liability for the consequences of the violation, which has never been comprehensively discussed by the Council.

Informal working group on the protection and preservation of the marine environment 

Opening statement

Firstly, allow me to make a very brief observation on the fund. The idea that a compensation fund can be used to implement measures to “prevent” damage is flawed and misleading. By the very nature of compensation, the damage would already have been done. Furthermore, the ISA’s mandate is for the effective protection of the marine environment. It is therefore not acceptable to merely “limit” or “remediate” damage. It is suggested that this Fund might finance restoration and rehabilitation, but the Best Available Scientific Evidence suggests that neither would be possible in the fragile realm of the deep-sea.

Furthermore, offset compensation is essentially meaningless in the context of the deep sea, and is not a substitute for failing to effectively protect the marine environment. These ecosystems are often completely unique and do not grow back — this richness cannot be replaced. 

DR 56 also has a severe limitation: the fund would have no assets in it to cover mining operations unless miners were required to pay directly into the fund before any activities start. Annual contributions will not alter this fact. Unless contractors are willing to contribute hundreds of millions of dollars before they start mining, the Fund cannot be effective.

Having not had the opportunity yesterday, we hope the distinguished delegates will indulge two more general statements from the DSCC and our colleagues at Greenpeace, as we begin the working group that is central to our work as environmental NGOs. First and foremost, we would like to reiterate our thanks to the numerous States that spoke out yesterday to defend our liberty to participate in these discussions. As concerns surrounding deep-sea mining grow, the number of Observers has grown also, and we are working together to streamline our interventions.

The DSCC consists of over 100 organisations, a number of whom are sitting by our side here today. Collectively, the Coalition membership and their supporters represent several million people concerned for nature and for both human and non-human life. For too long, our species has pillaged and plundered the Earth, systematically violating the web of life that we are part of.  We often refer to the ISA’s obligation to act for the benefit of humankind as a whole. But perhaps it is time for us to start acting for the benefit of allkind. Deep-sea mining will have fatal consequences for life in the deep; life that holds intrinsic value and is also intricately connected to the well-being of our own species – because these life forms are part of the biological carbon pump that keeps us breathing, part of the trophic chains that sustain our fisheries.

We all acknowledge the urgent need to transition away from fossil fuels, but there is a biodiversity crisis as well: opening up a whole new planetary frontier of biodiversity loss and endangering one of the most important natural carbon sinks is only going to create new problems, not resolve existing ones. There are other, more sustainable pathways to be found in rapidly evolving technological and social solutions. 

The discussions unfolding here at the ISA are not just about deep-sea mining. They are about whether or not we decide to perpetuate the extractive paradigm that is leading inexorably to the demise of life as we know it. There is a fundamental decision to make: do we continue down the same unsustainable pathways of extraction? Or are we on the cusp of a new era: an era where we tread more lightly in our world? 

There have been some notable developments since we last met, including the highly questionable ‘approval’ of the NORI test mine, by email under the silence procedure and without the full participation of the LTC. Council was not notified, let alone given the opportunity to review the test mine EIS and the ensuing ‘decision’. As a result, test mining has begun in the Pacific, and no States have actually said “yes” to it. 

We would finally like to take this opportunity to congratulate New Zealand on their recently announced moratorium position, and Germany and Panama on their stances in favour of a precautionary pause on deep-sea mining. We also pay our deepest respects to the 8 other countries that have in the last 6 months expressed support for a moratorium or precautionary pause. Needless to say, we stand by your side and call urgently for a moratorium or pause on potentially the largest mining operation in the history of humankind. It is not needed, it is not wanted. 

DR 60

Delivered by Oceans North on behalf of Oceans North and DSCC

This intervention is also on behalf of DSCC, and our intervention is underpinned by the important scientific clarification provided by DOSI.

At the outset, I want to stress that we believe the ecological damage, scientific uncertainties, and institutional deficiencies require a moratorium on DSM. But if a closure plan is to be discussed, we have a few comments.

If you would humour me briefly, could the delegates under 30 years of age raise their hands? 

What about the delegates under 25 years of age? 

I ask because in this section we are discussing closures that would happen decades from now, when the effects of mining are impacting the youth of today and the generations who come after us. 

Now onto the specifics, paragraph 1 states that the Contractor only needs to submit its closure plan 24 months prior to the planned end of mining, which would be decades away, it should instead be done at the time of application. 

On a few other points: The Closure and any post-closure monitoring plan should be approved by the Council, as DOSI said, and in paragraphs 2-5 the Council should have an opportunity to review the documents.

The proposed public consultation provisions would be many decades – or lifetimes – before any closure occurs. Thus,  public consultation would need to be ongoing, as these projects will span generations who will all be burdened with the damage that would have been caused by deep-sea mining. We are discussing an industry that wouldl impact people who would have had no say in these negotiations, or in the latter application procedures,  and that is a breach of intergenerational justice. 

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