- The New Zealand delegation stated that they look forward to the Assembly having an opportunity to discuss the protection of the marine environment and that the Authority must grapple with this responsibility.
- They added that the proposal of Chile and all indicate that the assembly has the power to direct. The Assembly and Council should collaborate to play their roles effectively and work properly under UNCLOS.
- New Zealand stated that RRPs must ensure the effective protection of the marine environment as required by UNCLOS. This requires adequate knowledge about the deep seabed and the impacts of deep sea mining
- The delegation stated that they believe that this issue is very important and as such that it warrants discussion by the Assembly as the supreme organ of the ISA, comprising all of its members in addition to the council. “ In this regard, we support the proposal of Chile, Costa Rica, France, Palau and Vanuatu, to discuss the conservation of the marine environment this week.”
- New Zealand reiterated their call for a moratorium until a legal framework is agreed that ensures the effective protection of the marine environment.
- Support comments from the DSCC on the need to avoid serious harm. As per UNCLOS, the overarching obligation is to ensure the effective protection of the marine environment and therefore references to serious harm are redundant.
- Reiterated again that in addition to a list of standards, New Zealand sees a need for a substantive determination on whether a plan of work provides for effective protection of the marine environment.
- Compliance standards alone won’t always ensure effective protection nor will it enable a consideration of cumulative effects. That’s why an overarching determination is still required.
- Regarding the regulation on environmental management and monitoring plans, New Zealand questioned the independent supplementary monitoring programme. If included within the environmental management and monitoring plan, it implies that it is developed by the contractor and the independence of the plan is therefore questionable.
- Seriously questioned the viability of offsetting in the deep-sea, even with the inclusion of “if possible”. New Zealand would not want to see proposals for offsetting of deep-sea mining impacts through, for example, the planting of trees when seabed habitats have been destroyed.
- Provisional approval does not equate to a contract.
- The Council may only give final approval only when exploitation regulations have been completed.
- Stated that an independent monitoring program by independent experts; in principle has merit but practicalities may be challenging.
- The delegation warned that “Monitoring after the fact is too late to protect the marine environment, in our experts’ view.” They also questioned why discharges in line with Reg 50(2) not a notifiable event.
- Highlighted the need to ensure protection of marine environment
- Thanked civil society, in particular Indigenous Peoples who shared perspectives this morning
- Stated that New Zealand believes that consultation should occur with any states that are potentially affected and not just states that have resource deposit, and also just on the subject of consultation
- New Zealand reiterated their call for a conditional moratorium in areas beyond national jurisdiction until regulations can be agreed that ensure the effective protection of the marine environment.
- On the NORI EIS, New Zealand raised concerns about the stakeholder consultation process and encouraged Council members and the LTC to review stakeholder requirements.
- Raised that it is essential to have transparency on matters of great public interest and the issue of Council members being made aware of a situation through press releases of a contractor rather than the ISA.
- Regarding the role of contractors, New Zealand agreed that contractors should have no role in decision-making.
- New Zealand welcomed Germany’s proposal and considered the development of binding environmental thresholds an important contribution to ensure the marine environment is effectively protected.
- New Zealand reiterated support for a conditional moratorium until regulations can be agreed that ensure the effective protection of the marine environment.
- New Zealand considered the discussion on 2-year rule important and thanked Chile for proposing it.
- “We are focused on developing regulations that ensure environmental protection and need to discuss what happens next. New Zealand consider paragraph 15 of the 1994 agreement does not require the council to approve the regulation or a plan of work. It requires the council to adopt those regulations eventually. And if they are not up to the mark environmentally the council should not adopt them. We are committed to protecting our ocean.”
- Echoed concern expressed about some contractors not complying fully and wanted to take this opportunity to reiterate need for full and effective compliance.
- The delegation stated: ” New Zealand shares the concerns that others have expressed about the prospect of deep-sea mining occurring before we have appropriate safeguards in place. This includes robust regulations that ensure the effective protection of the marine environment and sufficient scientific knowledge of the deep ocean, which would allow for robust assessment of the environmental effects of this activity.”
- “It is New Zealand’s view that mining cannot and should not take place in the absence of these safeguards. New Zealand agrees with those who have expressed the view that paragraph 15 of Section One of the annex to the 1994 agreement does not require the council to adopt exploitation regulations at the end of the two year period. Nor does that require the council to automatically approve a plan of work at that time. Rather, this provision requires the council to make best endeavours to complete regulations within the prescribed timeframe. If that work remains unfinished at the end of the two year deadline, the council was not required to adopt regulations that remain incomplete.”
- “In saying this, New Zealand will continue to work in good faith in the development of regulations with a strong view to ensuring that any regulations adopted above all ensure the effective protection of the marine environment.”
- The delegation stated that “Test mining itself is likely to result in harm to the environment. In fact, to understand potential effects, it’s almost necessary that it will result in some harm.”
- The delegation called for the word “serious” to be deleted from regulations, commenting that serious harm is too high a threshold.
- New Zealand suggested a proactive approach to prevent unplanned events and that regulations currently only require monitoring and mitigation if harm or serious harm has already occurred, which may be too late.
- The delegation stated that their key priority “is that any framework protects the marine environment. We consider all aspects of mining need to be assessed and evaluated – including processing on ships.”
- Called for full transparency in negotiations and the reinstatement of UN Web TV so that remote delegates, observers and media could follow meeting proceedings