Press Release

28 Jul 2023

The International Seabed Authority (ISA) Assembly meeting concludes today, ending three weeks of intense deep-sea mining negotiations in which no mining code was agreed or adopted in a fresh blow to prospective deep-sea mining companies. Since the beginning of the negotiations, momentum to defend the deep has continued to grow with another five countries announcing their support for a moratorium or pause on deep-sea mining. The Deep Sea Conservation Coalition (DSCC) has been present throughout the negotiations in Kingston. 

On 21 July, the ISA Council Meeting ended with no deep-sea mining regulations adopted. The mining industry was banking on the ISA opening the gates to commercial-scale deep-sea mining this July, but Member States of the Council did not green light the destructive industry. 

However, the legal loophole that would allow a company to apply for a contract to mine, even in the absence of regulations, remains open. The failure to close this loophole leaves one of our planet’s most critical and pristine environments vulnerable to permanent environmental destruction.

The ISA Assembly, the supreme body of the ISA that represents all 168 ISA Member States,  has the power to establish a pause or moratorium on deep-sea mining. A discussion on the protection of the marine environment, including a pause or moratorium on deep-sea mining was on the agenda for the first time in the ISA’s history, but the debate was blocked by China, in a move that brought to the forefront the governance deficiencies of the body that is meant to safeguard the deep sea for the common heritage of humankind. The movement for a pause or moratorium on deep-sea mining is real and growing, and therefore needs to be formally recognised in all ISA processes. It is crucial that this matter is addressed at the ISA Assembly under its own agenda item, where all member States can have a voice.

For years the ISA has been operating in its own bubble but the resounding call to protect the deep has disrupted the business as usual approach of the ISA Secretariat, mining industry, and the handful of pro-mining States. The need to protect the ocean from the impacts of mining took center stage inside and outside of the ISA during these weeks, despite efforts to silence the debate.

The race to defend the deep is on. We applaud the ocean champions spearheading the efforts to safeguard our fragile deep sea and urge all States to join the commitment to defending the deep.

The DSCC’S Global Deep-Sea Mining Campaign Lead, Sofia Tsenikli

Since the meetings began, the wave of resistance to the deep-sea mining industry across a broad spectrum of society reached an unprecedented high. Over the past month, the UN High Commission on Human Rights, the global seafood sector, 37 global financial institutions, scores of parliamentarians, leading scientists, Indigenous groups and youth groups, have all called for a halt to deep-sea mining. Twenty-one  forward-thinking governments, including countries such as Brazil, Costa Rica, Chile, Palau, Vanuatu, France, Germany, Switzerland, among others, have now taken positions against deep-sea mining in international waters, calling for a precautionary pause, moratorium or ban and championed discussions at the ISA over the past three weeks. 

At the Council meeting, a small handful of governments and delegations, namely Norway, Mexico, UK, and Nauru, did not succeed in pushing for the mining code to be adopted as soon as possible. 

With no mining code agreed and resistance mounting, prospective deep-sea miners have had their plans foiled. As the atmosphere gets increasingly tense at the ISA, the industry’s future is starting to look shaky. Investors, industry stakeholders, battery manufacturers, and tech companies are clearly becoming increasingly concerned about the viability of future deep-sea mining projects and are joining growing calls for a pause or moratorium.”

The DSCC’s Policy Officer, Emma Wilson

Issues concerning the poor governance and lack of transparency of the ISA continued to beset both the Council and Assembly meetings. Significant restrictions were placed on the media and NGO and scientist observers attending the meetings and key negotiations took place behind closed doors. Furthermore, concerns continued to grow regarding the influence of prospective mining companies on the Secretariat’s decision-making process and the Authority’s ability to act independently and in the best interests of the global community. The last three weeks saw proposals and requests for agenda items being sidelined and a stalemate that lasted all week about whether the Assembly will be permitted to discuss conservation of the marine environment.

There urgently needs to be an institutional overhaul at the ISA that empowers states and stakeholders concerned about protecting the deep sea, opens deep-sea mining negotiations to scrutiny and shifts the focus of the ISA to open and independent deep-sea scientific investigation and research. The stalemate over whether to debate the conservation of the marine environment is a travesty. It is clear that some States simply do not want the world, represented by the 168 States in the Assembly, to debate in public the implications of deep-sea mining for the marine environment.” 

The DSCC’s Legal Advisor Duncan Currie

“The clear divide amongst the member countries of the ISA and between the institutional structures of the organization that have emerged over these past few weeks have made it abundantly clear that the ISA is at a crossroads. To mine or not to mine the global ocean commons, that is the question the international community of nations now faces. In the 1970s, the negotiators of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea thought that deep-sea mining could be done without harm to the marine environment. Today however, an increasing number of nations now recognize that that is not the case and that there is a need for a moratorium and a rethink of the assumptions of the past.”

Matthew Gianni, Political and Policy Adviser to the DSCC


Reported as of 12:00 PM Eastern on Friday, July 28 2023.

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“The narrative that deep seabed mining is needed to combat climate change is misleading, and simply greenwashing. The science is very clear. We must not repeat the mistakes of the past. A functioning ocean is the best buffer, best mitigation and adaptation tool we have for addressing the impacts of climate change. We need to focus our efforts towards a circular economy – addressing both the dual biodiversity and climate crises together, or we risk solving neither.” 

WWF’s No Deep Seabed Mining Lead and DSCC Member, Jessica Batte.

We have concerns with the positioning by the Secretary General of the ISA of deep seabed mining as potentially sustainable, or as part of a blue economy in support of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The removal of a finite resource that has taken millions of years to form is not sustainable – by definition. The United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative has concluded that financing DSM is not compatible with a sustainable blue economy, and the High-Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy has found that DSM “raises …possible conflicts with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.”

The Ocean Foundation’s Legal Officer and DSM Focal Point, Bobbi-Jo Dobush.

Over the course of the Council and Assembly meetings, we have voiced concerns over a lack of transparency and stakeholder engagement at the International Seabed Authority. The ISA is responsible for governing the seabed, for the benefit of all humankind, and ensuring the effective protection of the marine environment. This is relevant to all people, and yet the ISA closes its doors to journalists, limits civil society engagement, and is facing increasing scrutiny of its close relationship with contractors. For a potential industry targeting huge swaths of the ocean, transparency and openness is critical. All voices need to be heard at the ISA and their perspectives considered – the fate of the Common Heritage of Humankind is at stake.”

Oceans North’s International Policy Advisor, Nicole Zanesco.

We must not repeat the mistakes we have made in the past, where priceless, irreplaceable wildlife, in many cases with great potential importance for humans, has been indiscriminately wiped out for the profit of a few. More states need to add their voice to ensure the protection of the deep sea, for the benefit of all humankind.”

Environmental Justice Foundation’s Stop Deep Sea Mining Campaign Lead, Martin Webeler.

This week’s stalling of any meaningful discussion on the protection of the deep-sea emphasizes once again that the ISA is not fit for purpose. It must be reformed to meet the challenges of the 21st century. We are living in a time of a triple crisis: The climate crisis, unprecedented biodiversity loss and global pollution. We cannot afford to add to these crises by destroying the deep-sea. Now more than ever nations must agree to a moratorium on deep-sea mining. 

Founder and Director of Women4Oceans, Farah Obaidullah.

24 Jul 2023

For immediate release – 24.7.23

The International Seabed Authority (ISA) is facing mounting pressure as governments, scientists, industry experts, environmental organizations and concerned citizens rally to halt deep-sea mining, while a handful of States and mining companies seek to forge ahead. The ISA Council meeting closed on Friday and the ISA Assembly meeting begins today, closing on 28 July. The Deep Sea Conservation Coalition (DSCC) has been present throughout negotiations in Kingston.

After two weeks of intense negotiations, the ISA Council meeting ended with no deep-sea mining code (the term for the mining regulations) adopted. The mining industry was banking on the ISA opening the gates to commercial-scale deep-sea mining this July, but Member States of the Council did not give the green light. However, the legal loophole that would allow a company to apply for a provisional licence to mine even in the absence of a mining code remains open, leaving the world’s most pristine environment still at risk.

The focus now turns to the ISA Assembly, the supreme organ of the ISA, where States are set to formally discuss, for the first time in ISA history, the growing call for a ‘pause’ on deep-sea mining. The Assembly has the power to close the legal loophole that would allow the industry to begin strip-mining vast areas of the deep ocean by establishing a moratorium on the extractive activity. An open debate on deep-sea mining at the Assembly would allow all 168 ISA Member States, not just the 36 Members of the ISA Council, to express their views on this critical issue and formulate a general policy for the protection of the marine environment.

The growing opposition to deep-sea mining from a broad spectrum of society clearly demonstrates that there is no social license for deep-sea mining to begin. We need all governments in the room at the ISA Assembly to make a moratorium a reality and safeguard the health of our ocean. Stopping the industry in its tracks is the only responsible way forward.”

DSCC’S Global Deep-Sea Mining Campaign Lead, Sofia Tsenikli

The Assembly meeting comes immediately after a Council meeting where a handful of governments and delegations, namely Norway, Mexico, UK, China and Nauru, continued to push for the mining code to be adopted as soon as possible. However, as the DSCC warned, if the mining code that States are negotiating is eventually adopted, the largest mining operation in human history could become a reality with no way back.

Strip-mining the most fragile, undisturbed and critical habitats on our planet would inevitably cause permanent large-scale damage. With or without regulations, the end result would be the same: extinction of species; permanent habitat loss; impacts on carbon sequestration and fisheries and cultural heritage undermined.”

DSCC Policy Officer, Emma Wilson

A growing number of governments, including Brazil, France, Costa Rica, Vanuatu, Germany and Chile pushed back against attempts to fast-track the adoption of a mining code because of insurmountable gaps in scientific understanding. Just before the start of the meeting of the ISA Council, a number of governments including Canada, Brazil, Finland, and Portugal all joined the wave of opposition, calling for a precautionary pause or moratorium. 21 countries have now taken positions in favour of suspending the opening of international waters to deep-sea mining.

In addition, the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights called for a moratorium this month, warning that “The combined potential impacts from mining and other stressors on the marine environment (such as climate change, unsustainable fishing, and pollution) are catastrophic.” The global seafood sector condemned the emerging industry following the publication of a new paper warning of socioeconomic and environmental impacts and conflict between deep-sea mining and some of the world’s most profitable fisheries. The UK Labour party called for a moratorium and U.S. Congressman Ed Case introduced legislation calling for a moratorium on deep-sea mining in international waters. Prominent scientists continue to highlight the inevitable irreversible consequences deep-sea mining would have if permitted to go ahead and underscore the need for urgent action. Furthermore, 37 global financial institutions in a signed letter, representing over €3.3 trillion of combined assets, urged governments to prevent deep-sea mining to go ahead to “protect the ocean”.

Issues concerning the poor governance and lack of transparency of the ISA continued to arise during the Council meetings. New restrictions were placed by the ISA Secretariat on the participation of global media and observers present during the negotiations, even refusing to allow journalists to attend the Assembly meetings this week. The DSCC joined Greenpeace, Interamerican Association for Environmental Defense, Oceans North, Pacific Blue Line, the Pacific Network on Globalisation and The Ocean Foundation in calling on the ISA Secretary General to accredit media for the Assembly meeting and reverse the restrictions to enable freedom of expression and equal participation.

The DSCC now urges Member States of the ISA Assembly to strive for the highest level of ambition and prevent the ISA from being bound to arbitrary deadlines and legal loopholes, activated on behalf of mining companies for the sake of short term profit.

“The pressure by a few for a timeline to agree to future regulations amounts to pressure to green-light mining when so many are calling for a moratorium or precautionary pause. We urge the governments which have called for a moratorium or pause to continue to show leadership by spearheading the discussions for a deep-sea mining moratorium at the ISA Assembly meeting this week.”

DSCC Legal Advisor, Duncan Currie

The past two weeks of negotiations have clearly demonstrated that governments do not yet agree on whether mining should go forward and whether it can even be regulated to prevent damage to the marine environment. We are asking all 169 members of the ISA Assembly to collectively recognize that we cannot continue to make the mistakes of the past 300 years by opening up whole new frontiers of the planet to large-scale industrial resource extraction in spite of the clear warnings from scientists that loss of deep-sea species, biodiversity and ecosystems will inevitably occur.”

DSCC Political and Policy Advisor, Matthew Gianni

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10 Jul 2023


For release 10th July 2023 00:00 BST

This week, countries from around the world will convene in Kingston, Jamaica to negotiate rules and regulations that if agreed and adopted, would open up our ocean to the largest mining operation humanity has ever seen. The Deep Sea Conservation Coalition (DSCC) urges governments to draw a line in the sand and support a moratorium on the destructive, emerging industry.

As global governments descend on Kingston from July 10th – 28th for the International Seabed Authority (ISA) Council and Assembly meetings, the controversial deep-sea mining industry is thrown into the international spotlight once again. The meetings coincide with the deadline of a legal loophole triggered by the Pacific island of Nauru on behalf of the mining company, Nauru Offshore Resources Inc, a subsidiary of Canadian would-be miners, The Metals Company. This loophole could open the way for mining applications to be given the green light even without regulations in place. Standing in opposition, an increasing number of governments are realizing that the most responsible approach to safeguarding our ocean and averting irreversible harm, is through a moratorium on deep-sea mining.

“States have been rushing to develop and adopt a Mining Code for the last two years at the ISA Council. The very fact this has not been possible is confirmation of the glaring scientific gaps that exist, the volume of unaddressed regulatory issues and the growing global backlash to an industry we know will cause irreversible destruction to our ocean at a time when we should be obsessed with protecting it. The ISA Assembly must safeguard our ocean by establishing a moratorium on deep-sea mining, so that we do not continue to make the same mistakes that led us to the multiple environmental crises we face today.”

DSCC Policy Officer Emma Wilson

This year, the ISA Assembly will discuss a proposal to defer the advance of deep-sea mining, led by Chile, Costa Rica, France, Palau and Vanuatu. This puts the need for a long term suspension of deep-sea mining formally on the ISA negotiating table for the first time in the ISA’s history.

The race to defend the ocean is heating up at the ISA. The threat of deep-sea mining is looming, but it is fantastic to see global momentum against the destructive industry grow. We call on all States to stand up and be counted by establishing a deep-sea mining moratorium at the ISA Assembly. By hitting the brakes on deep-sea mining, governments will be prioritizing the health of our ocean for future generations over short term profit. Anything less would run contrary to their ocean protection obligations, including those enshrined in the recently adopted High Seas Biodiversity Treaty. ” 

DSCC Deep Sea Mining Moratorium Campaign Lead, Sofia Tsenikli

Last Friday, the DSCC launched a new campaign action calling on members of the public to urge their country’s Ministers to support a moratorium on the industry. Switzerland are the latest in a long line of governments adding their voice to calls for a moratorium, precautionary pause or ban, which includes: Chile, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, France, Fiji, Germany, Federated States of Micronesia, New Zealand, Palau, Panama, Samoa, Spain, Switzerland and Vanuatu. 

More than 750 scientists and recently, the European Academies Science Advisory Council (EASAC), have warned about the unavoidable and irreversible impacts of deep-sea mining if it were to go ahead. Resistance to the industry has also been felt across a broad spectrum of society. In addition to the growing resistance from governments and scientists, global companies including BMW Group, Google, Volswagen and global financial institutions including the European Investment Bank have all called for a moratorium on the industry and/or pledged to keep deep-sea minerals out of their investments and supply chains. Indigenous leaders, the fisheries sector, youth groups and civil society have all urged ISA member States to rethink the rush to mine the deep. 

Contrary to prospectors’ claims, the battery industry continues to move away from the minerals deep-sea miners seek to target in favour of a new generation of batteries that reuses these materials – or does not use them at all. A new EASAC report, which calls for a deep-sea mining moratorium, highlighted that “the argument that deep-sea mining is essential to meet the demands for critical materials, is thus contested and does not support the urgency with which exploitation of deep-sea minerals is being pursued.”

“Deep-sea mining is not the route to decarbonization that its proponents tout it to be, nor will it replace land-based mining or somehow be ‘better’ than land-based mining. The rush to open the deep sea by the International Seabed Authority is being driven by a company operating for pure self-gain. If the ISA begins permitting deep-sea mining, it will be based on a false notion that the world ‘needs’ deep-sea metals, be detrimental to the planet and humankind as a whole and only serve to line the pockets of a few corporations in the global North.”

DSCC Policy Adviser Matthew Gianni

Countries will also continue negotiations on a decision of the ISA Council anticipating an application for mining from The Metals Company and potentially closing the 2 year loophole.

It is clear that States do not want mining to go ahead in the absence of regulations. Regulations must not be adopted unless certain other crucial conditions are met, such as having adequate science and ensuring that the environment is effectively protected.” 

DSCC international Legal Adviser, Duncan Currie

The DSCC will be present in Kingston throughout negotiations, advocating for a moratorium on deep-sea mining and calling for reform of the ISA to ensure it becomes a more transparent, inclusive and effective decision-making body that acts on behalf of humankind as a whole. The Authority, and particularly its Secretary General, has recently faced scrutiny for having a pro-mining bias.



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Notes to editors

  • The International Seabed Authority (ISA) is the UN intergovernmental body charged both with regulating any deep-sea mining in areas beyond national jurisdiction and with ensuring the effective protection of the marine environment. 

Additional quotes from DSCC members

The deep ocean is the blue heart of our planet- it helps to make life on earth possible. Global governments are at a crossroads. They have the opportunity to stand on the right side of history and say enough is enough by supporting a moratorium on a new destructive industry that we don’t need or want.” – Sian Owen, DSCC Director.

Stopping deep-sea mining means protecting the largest habitat on the planet, facing down the newest frontier of neo-colonial extractivism and challenging techno-fixes that label destruction as green and necessary. Today, we can stop an industry from gaining a foothold and ravaging one of our last biodiverse boundaries – the precious ecosystems of the ocean’s floor.” – Lousia Casson, Global Project Lead Greenpeace. 

The WWF commissioned Future is Circular report published in November sets out that we can reduce demand for the minerals that the deep-seabed mining industry is looking at by 58% – and this is based upon the IEA 2050 Net zero scenario. Deep-seabed mining is not necessary, and will come too late to contribute to the energy transition, where minerals primarily are needed in the short term.”– Jessica Battle, Global Lead for WWF’s No Deep Seabed Mining Initiative. 

A huge reservoir of biodiversity resides in the deep sea, with thousands of species still yet to even be discovered. It also plays an important but understudied role in vital Earth systems such as carbon cycling and storage. Seabed mining, regulated or otherwise, must not proceed before addressing the extensive gaps in scientific knowledge about the potential impacts on the deep-sea ecosystem and the crucial services it provides to us and our planet.” – Julian Jackson, Senior Manager, Ocean Governance, at The Pew Charitable Trusts.

27 Mar 2023

Media update

This week at the International Seabed Authority (ISA) headquarters in Kingston, Jamaica, negotiations to agree a ‘mining code’ get into their third week at the Authority’s 28th Council meeting. If adopted, the mining code would give destructive deep-sea mining the go ahead, opening our ocean to the largest mining operation humanity has ever seen. The negotiations have faced increased scrutiny in the face of the multiple risks surrounding the industry, and a greater number of observer organisations present than previously seen, testament to the growing chorus of voices across society calling for a stop. The DSCC are present in Kingston for the meeting, running from the 16th – 31st March.

Continue reading ISA negotiations enter their third week as the world says “no” to the largest mining operation in human history

20 Mar 2023

Deep Sea Conservation Coalition Reaction


An article published yesterday (19 March) in the New York Times highlights concerns by International Seabed Authority (ISA) State delegates surrounding a lack of impartiality of the ISA’s Secretary General. The article points to the pro-mining agenda of the ISA Secretary General – the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition (DSCC) calls for urgent reform of the Authority.

11 Nov 2022

The International Seabed Authority (ISA) today concluded the 27th Meeting of the Council amidst mounting international resistance to the controversial emerging deep-sea mining industry.

As the moment of truth draws ever closer, the political momentum against deep-sea mining is gaining ground. In the space of six months alone, 12 States have made bold political decisions that put nature where it should be: front and centre. Over the course of the meeting, France, New Zealand, Germany and Panama joined Palau, Fiji, Samoa, the Federated States of Micronesia, Chile, Costa Rica, Spain and Ecuador in calling to pull back from the brink of a vast new extractive sector on the grounds of the environmental, social and economic risks. 

French President Emmanuel Macron called for a ban in an opening address at COP27 and France reaffirmed this position during the ISA meeting this week, warning: “As the effects of climate change become increasingly threatening and the erosion of biodiversity continues to accelerate, today it does not seem reasonable to hastily launch a new project, that of deep seabed mining, the environmental impacts of which are not yet known and may be significant for such ancient ecosystems which have a very delicate equilibrium.” 

The DSCC and its member organisations called on countries to prioritise safeguarding the health of the ocean by defending the deep from destructive exploitation.

The DSCC’s Campaign Lead Sofia Tsenikli stated: “World leaders are finally waking up to the imminent risks of deep-sea mining and the need to protect the blue heart of our planet that sustains us all. Rather than being remembered as the generation that delivered the final blow to our planet by unleashing a new industry which could have catastrophic impacts, we urge States to put sustainability and intergenerational equity first. The DSCC welcomes the leadership shown by countries calling for a stop to deep-sea mining and we urge all States to follow before it is too late.

The Deep Ocean Stewardship Initiative (DOSI), a global network of deep sea scientists, present throughout negotiations, continued to warn delegates that species extinction and damage to fragile deep sea ecosystems would be inevitable and irreversible if the industry were to go ahead. A new scientific report presented during the meeting at a side event hosted by the DSCC and Sustainable Ocean Alliance, also highlights the risks that deep-sea mining poses to critical carbon stores and biodiversity in the deep sea.

The ISA meeting focused on negotiating a ‘mining code’ that, if adopted, would allow countries to apply for mining contracts as early as July 2023, due to the triggering of a loophole referred to as the “two-year rule”. Despite a number of States backing variously a precautionary pause, moratorium or ban, there is still a very real possibility that this destructive industry could commence next year as countries such as the UK and Norway are pushing for adoption of regulations by July 2023. 

On the penultimate day of Council, serious concerns were raised about the ability of the Authority to act as an effective regulator for an industry that could open the largest mining operation ever seen in human history. Almost unanimous concern was raised across Council on repeated violations that have already taken place by would-be miners during the exploration phase of deep-sea mining. Numerous delegations also raised concerns over the Authority’s recent approval of test-mining, which was granted behind closed doors, without any consultation with stakeholders or ISA member countries. 

The DSCC’s Legal Advisor, Duncan Currie stated that “It is clear that as it stands the Authority is not fit to act as an effective regulator of a new, destructive industry that threatens to incur enormous damage on deep-sea habitats and ecosystems.” Currie added: “Rather than catalyse the rush to mine the deep, the ISA should focus on promoting deep-sea scientific research, to advance the protection of critical and fragile deep-sea habitats.” 

Emma Wilson, the DSCC Policy Officer stated: “Rather than opening up a new frontier of industrial mining and extending the footprint of terrestrial mining into the depths of our ocean, we should be moving towards more environmentally and socially responsible models of production, consumption and reuse.” Wilson added “World leaders have a unique opportunity to take concrete action to protect one of our planet’s last wilderness areas from irreversible destruction – the only way forward is a moratorium on deep-sea mining.


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7 Nov 2022

The Deep Sea Conservation Coalition (DSCC) today welcomed the announcement by French President Emmanuel Macron that France is calling for a ban on deep-sea mining.

In his opening speech at COP27, President Macron stated that “La France demande l’interdiction de toute exploitation des grands fonds marins, j’assume cette position et je la porterai dans les enceintes internationales” – France is calling for a ban on all exploitation of the deep seabed – a position which I will relay in international fora.


2 Nov 2022

Ecologistas en Acción- Madrid/Kingston, 2 de noviembre de 2022

Alemania, Costa Rica y Panamá se han sumado al llamamiento español durante la reunión de la Autoridad Internacional de los Fondos Marinos que empezó este lunes

Esta semana se ha inaugurado en Kingston, Jamaica, la reunión del Consejo de la Autoridad Internacional de los Fondos Marinos (ISA), organismo intergubernamental responsable por la regulación de los fondos marinos en aguas internacionales. La reunión internacional se produce en un momento crítico, en el que varios Estados pretenden forzar que se autorice el inicio de la explotación en 2023.

Continue reading Comunicado de prensa: Se multiplican las voces a favor de una “pausa precautoria” a la minería submarina