United Kingdom – Key statements
Date: 11 November 2022
- All environmental data and information before, during and after a Plan of Work needs to be available in the ISA’s central data repository, which is currently called Deep Data and such data should be regularly uploaded.
- Supports increasing interest rates on unpaid royalty payments over time.
- Key tools for monitoring mining impacts, need to be more consistently referenced across regulations.
- Agree that underwater cultural heritage must be taken into account during environmental assessments, in line with domestic procedure.
- More appropriate to follow UNCLOS rather than UNESCO, especially as not all have ratified UNESCO.
- Draft regulation 49: Important to refer to harmful effects.
- Noted the comments some have had on the inclusion of marine litter and underwater noise in the definition of pollution. We think these are included in the scope of pollution, but we note their inclusion is important for some delegations. We can be flexible.
- The UK expresses concern about the impacts of deep-sea mining and supports a moratorium of the granting deep-sea mining licenses by the International Seabed Authority. “This precautionary approach means we will not sponsor or support the issuing of any such licences for deep-sea mining by the ISA unless and until there is sufficient scientific evidence about the potential impact on deep-sea ecosystems”
- The delegation stated that we can adopt the provisional agenda without the additional agenda item if there is consensus.
- The United Kingdom noted the short time countries had to review the Strategic plan and requested more time to review before adoption.
- The United Kingdom states it would be useful to have informal discussions on procedural issues to find a way forward to agree on adoption of the agenda.
- The United Kingdom states that its approach to deep-sea mining is both precautionary and conditional, and has the precautionary principle at its core.
- United Kingdom states it will not sponsor or support the issuing of exploitation licences for deep-sea mining projects, unless and until there is sufficient scientific evidence on the potential impact on deep-sea ecosystems.
- The UK are fully engaged in negotiations at the ISA and stated ideally a consolidated text of the draft regulations would be completed before November and a timely adoption of an environmentally sensitive and commercially viable mining code.
- The UK will continue to work tirelessly to ensure that this work continues so that the regulations are in place before any application is received. The UK said the elaboration of the regulations is the top priority.
- Agree with Germany’s original policy intent behind the test mining proposal that it is important to ensure that an application for a plan of work for exploitation is informed by in-situ environmental data and that test mining is a way to acheive this in a potential new industry.
- Agree that test mining is an important aspect to consider when making decisions to provide for effective protection of the real environment from harmful effects.
- Agree that test mining would benefit from scientific input as to the appropriate scale.
- Test mining must be effectively regulated and subject to an environmental impact assessment.
- Support test mining being part of a substantive determination about avoiding harm to the marine environment and not let it become a tick box activity.
- The UK echoed statements from other States calling to have time allotted for substantive discussion of the ISA commissioned Value of Ecosystem Services and Natural Capital in the Area report, noting that the report is without prejudice to the decisions of the Council and will make a valuable contribution to informing decisions.
- The United Kingdom noted that it was unfortunate the discussion was happening at the end of the day but appreciated the comments on the report from the DSCC on 10/7/23.
- The UK stated that they won’t sponsor or support exploitation licences unless and until there is sufficient scientific evidence about the impact and that strong and enforceable regs and guidelines and standards have been developed and are in place
- It’s important that necessary scientific research incl on baselines can be carried out comprehensively, safely and without interference
- UK will continue to engage fully with negotiations at ISA and with successful conclusion on BBNJ, the UK will work closely with partners to ensure a regulatory framework with the highest level of environmental protection
- Stated that “we’re mindful as well of the need to ensure that the length of the EIS is not such as to place a burden, which can sometimes occur”
- Called for protection of the marine environment from ‘harmful effects’
- Stated that financial incentives to begin deep-sea mining are not incompatible with the draft regulations on financial models.
- Questioned the rigid imposition of royalties paid to ISA by contractors, which could artificially put into bankruptcy a contractor that could otherwise recover its cash flow.
- The UK stated that they will continue to sponsor for both contract areas and remain licensed under UK’s domestic legislation and will continue to meet the requirements for “qualified applicant” under exploitation code
- The UK stated that it is beyond the mandate of the ISA to ensure that it doesn’t monopolize the production of any single mineral and metal produced
- The UK stated that they are committed to fully engaging in negotiations underway and emphasized that they are keen to see the ISA Council finalize regulations by July 2023.
- Together with China noted that “the work of the expert group should be under the oversight of the LTC and their final decision making on adopting a REMP should of course rest of the council and be based on the LTCs recommendation.”
- The UK called on delegates to ensure that we don’t lose momentum on “critical work.”
- The UK expressed support for steps to be taken to operationalize the Enterprise, commending the proposed methodology in terms of looking to adopt it at the next meeting in the spring.
- The UK stated that they are very supportive of building up the organs of the ISA. This includes EPC.
- The UK delegation proposed bringing forward discussions on drafts standards and guidelines.
- Stated with regard to the Belgium proposal – “We acknowledge the point made by observers and note that they all have their own policy positions as well in relation to the interventions which they make as well.”
- The UK delegation stated that the discussion on ‘what if’ scenarios was scheduled by the Council for the 31st of October to November meeting and that has been in the roadmap since December.
- The UK stated that “we think that the time has come to take the steps to put the [economic planning] committee in place as the council and the ISA takes this forward. It’s important work.”