Date: 10 November 2022

March 2023


  • The French delegation fully aligned with France – and supported their call for action stating that they have co-signed this letter.
  • “From listening to general statements – but also from other meetings we are convinced that many parties share these points – even those who have not said precautionary pause or moratorium.”


  • Broad agreement that the LTC is not required to make a specific recommendation to approve or disapprove a Plan of Work within UNCLOS nor the 1994 agreement.


  • The delegation stated:
    • “As a general point, we would prefer to keep the vision of the term serious before harm. The reason is that the convention requires us to ensure that activities in the area provide for the effective protection of the marine environment, not only to prevent serious harm,
    • In fact, if serious harm is caused, this would necessitate suspending mining operations.
    • It is in the interest of both the authority and contractors that inspectors identify non compliance before it reaches the level of serious harm to allow contractors to modify their mining operations”


  • On restoration and rehabilitation, the German delegation reiterated that neither terms are scientifically possible, so we suggest to add ‘if they become feasible in the future’
  • Views requirements for environmental impact assessments to be binding requirements that could be accompanied by additional guidelines.
  • Stated that ISA regulations should not undermine ABMT in other international fora and the new BBNJ agreement
  • Called for reference to underwater cultural heritage and and stressed the importance of having indirect effects included in definition of environmental effects.


  • Commented that test mining should be conducted before a contract is granted
  • Stated that “While we understand that we try to narrow down the text, we are not in the position of agreeing on the text at this stage, because of short time allocated to the discussion.”
  • Highlighted that the EIS for NORI’s test mining is still not to be found on ISA’s website despite requested by several delegations, a point that was echoed by Norway.
  • Stated that environmental restoration and rehabilitation as currently referenced in regulations is not feasible based on current scientific knowledge


  • Stated that “rare and fragile ecosystems” is not enough and regulations should include “all forms of marine ecosystems”


  • Stated that we don’t know the overall biodiversity of the deep sea, the basics of food dynamics the role of microbial communities in the water column, connectivity, ocean acidification, species and productivity loss – we know less about deep sea than any other ecosystems on earth.
  • Germany called on all countries to reject all applications until all essential issues have been resolved.
  • Germany called for the constructive use of a precautionary pause.
  • Germany stated that it remains crucial that council members prepare for a scenario in which a mining code is not adopted and a discussion is had between member states and observers without undue influence.
  • Supported Canada on giving more time to the intersessional dialogue.

October/November 2022


  • Welcome the growing momentum towards precaution amongst members of the Authority. It is our responsibility to determine the conditions under which seabed mining could occur.
  • On the NORI EIS – proper public consultation should be mandatory even and especially after an EIS has been substantially revised by a contractor. While NORI’s initial EIS was subject to stakeholder consultation, significant revisions were made to the second and third versions of the EIS without further consultation.
  • Requested that a discussion be held regarding whether it is advisable to use the silence procedure in decision making of such important matters. 
  • Assume that NORI will provide the Authority with all environmental information collected during the mining tests after a reasonable period of time to evaluate the data and this information be made publicly available. 
  • Reiterated call from The Netherlands for the LTC to report back and explicitly mention the names of the contractors that have repeatedly ignored the call from both the Council as well as the LTC to abide by their contractual obligations.


  • Germany stated that our primary objective remains a timely adoption of exploitation regulations, standards and guidelines that provide for strict environmental protection.
  • The delegation stated that the commencement of deep-sea mining is the single most important decision this Authority has to take, and must concern a majority of the Council.


  • On standardising the procedure for development and approval of REMPs (Regional Environmental Monitoring Plans) Germany commented that they could not support the draft as submitted and that significant amendments would need to be made. The delegation stated that “a high level of caution and thoroughness is more than justified.”
  • Germany stated that the establishment of environmental thresholds is necessary for the fulfillment of the environmental obligations under UNCLOS


  • Germany reiterated their position that if there are significant uncertainties, mining operations should or should not take place


  • Germany underlined its view that “the current knowledge and available science is insufficient to approve deep seabed mining until further notice.” They added that subject to national legal review, Germany will therefore not sponsor any plans of work for exploitation until the deep-sea ecosystems and the impacts of deep-sea mining have been sufficiently researched and until there are exploitation regulations with strict environmental standards in place, ensuring that the marine environment is not seriously harmed.
  • The delegation called for “the strict application of the precautionary approach” and “a precautionary pause in deep-sea mining, facilitating further marine scientific research.”

July/August 2022


  • Commented that contractors are required to adhere to best environmental practices, but it will be based on the technical abilities of the contractor at the moment of approval. Incentives are to keep improving their technical abilities even after their contract is approved. They stated that contractors who go beyond what is technically required by the contract and should be able to market their goods in a form that is less costly


  • Stated that “e note with concerned that the environmental management and monitoring plan submitted by the contractor NORI is still insufficient, despite plans to carry out a mining test during the next weeks or months.”
  • “In general we find the entire process of NORIs EIS submission in three pieces in order to meet the one-year deadline to be deficient. The first early and premature draft submitted in July 2021 only contains rudimentary site-specific environmental baseline data. The following report submitted on March 2022, was the missing environmental data then lacked the EMP, which was not submitted until two months later. In order to bring the process to a positive conclusion. We expect NORI to provide sufficient and thorough answers to the Commission’s questions on the EMMP before the test mining could be included in the plan of work.“


  • Shared concerns of Costa Rica on offsetting


  • On budgetary matters highlighted “short period between receiving report and today, so have to reserve our position.
  • Stated that “a clear and effective and enforceable regulatory regime for DSM is imperative and needs to include binding with measurable thresholds” and that “so far developed environmental standards by the LTC are lacking such thresholds and largely focus on procedural issues in the preparation of plans of work.”
  • The delegation reminded that UNCLOS Article 145 calls for the effective protection of the marine environment from harmful effects and as such “any plan of work submitted to the authority must comply with this level of protection.” 
  • They added that “UNCLOS provides for emergency orders to prevent serious harm.”
  • Germany stated that “In our paper, we put a particular emphasis on the role of scientific uncertainties which are a key challenge for defining threshold values, in particular for deep sea environments. Both for setting thresholds and for predicting and measuring impacts in advance and in the course of an operation cannot be emphasized enough that robust environmental baseline information Information is essential. We therefore also strongly argued for agreeing on a binding standard on baseline data collection with a minimum set of environmental parameters.”
  • They highlighted that “the vast majority of species habitats, and ecological processes are still unknown in the deep sea and state-related parameters, such as biodiversity indices, or population level indicators are extremely difficult to measure.  Due to the urgency and to the high level of expertise needed, we suggest establishing an intersessional working mode to one or more specialized working groups led by volunteering state parties.”
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