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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.

27 Jul 2023

On July 25th in Kingston, Jamaica, the Governments of Palau, Costa Rica, Vanuatu, and Brazil joined forces with the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition to celebrate our living ocean and discuss the future of deep-sea mining and marine environment protection. The event was organized during the International Seabed Authority’s (ISA) Assembly week.

The ISA Assembly meeting offers a crucial opportunity for Member States to take a resolute stand against the advancement of destructive deep-sea mining. Recognizing the potential risks of this destructive industry, which could inflict irreparable harm on the global ocean and the livelihoods of those who rely on it, an increasing number of countries are aligning with scientific counsel and societal concerns by advocating for a moratorium or precautionary pause.

The event’s atmosphere encouraged the exchange of perspectives on why a moratorium or precautionary pause is vital via statements from ISA delegates and discussions throughout the evening.

Speakers included:

  • Director General Gina Guillen-Grillo, Costa Rica
  • Ambassador Elza Moreira Marcelino de Castro, Brazil
  • Permanent Representative Siddharth Shekhar Yadav, Vanuatu
  • Ambassador Ilana Seid representing, Palau
  • The Honourable Hervé Berville, France

The collective call for a pause in deep-sea mining demonstrates the growing resistance to the emerging industry and concern for the wellbeing of our ocean. As the ISA enters a pivotal phase in its history, this united front shows a commitment to safeguarding the health of our planet for future generations. By heeding the scientific advice and societal concerns, these governments, along with others supporting a moratorium, ban or precautionary pause on deep-sea mining, are helping to pave the way for a more secure and thriving marine environment.

Watch some highlights from the speeches below:

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.

16 Mar 2023

Opening statement

Thank you Mr. President and good morning delegates. We recognise the desire to move on but we hope the delegates will indulge us for a few minutes more – we would like to thank the Federated States of Micronesia and Belgium for supporting our active participation in this conversation. 

I speak on behalf of the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition and our 100 plus member organisations, many of whom sit alongside us today. We’d like to start by extending our thanks to the host State of Jamaica and ISA Sec staff for your kind hospitality.   

We are only 4 months away from potentially green-lighting deep-seabed mining under the two-year rule, in spite of significant environmental concerns, vast gaps in knowledge and understanding of deep-sea ecosystems, and widespread resistance to the industry from a growing spectrum of stakeholders.

We are concerned that the time currently allocated to the agenda item pertaining to the two-year rule (less than half a day on Friday 24 March) will be insufficient to allow for the multilateral process to take effect, and reflects a disconnect between the agenda and the growing global concern around the accelerated push toward mining the deep. The conclusion of the BBNJ Agreement on marine biodiversity is very significant for the ISA. The international community has spoken: we cannot destroy marine biodiversity and must respect and preserve the common heritage of humankind. We therefore respectfully request that the appropriate adjustments are made to the Programme of Work, to allow at least one full day for the discussion. 

While DSM is certainly a complex issue, it is grounded in a simple reality: deep-sea mining will destroy living ecosystems and marine biodiversity. It’s easy to lose sight of that when we’re sitting in a conference centre or an office day after day. I’m sure many of you have seen the excellent article by deep-sea biologist, Diva Amon, published in the New York Times this week. As you know, Dr. Amon is one of the few people involved in these discussions who’s witnessed the life of the deep with her own eyes, who’s been amongst it. And she describes something quite magical: a trove of biodiversity composed of strange and wonderful creatures: tentacled, luminous, ancient. We would do well to keep the images of these creatures in mind as we discuss the prospect of their destruction.

And all for what? The market is moving away from the metals found on the deep-sea floor. Electric vehicle manufacturers including Chinese manufacturer BYD and Tesla, for example, are already using a battery that contains no nickel or cobalt. Alongside these developments, recent studies show that through investment in the circular economy and recycling technologies, demand for these metals can be reduced by 58%. The narrative that deep-sea metals are needed for the energy transition is, therefore, debatable. 

All this raises the question: is a radical new extractive industry delving into the deepest reaches of our world something that humankind as a whole can accept? The ever-growing resistance from scientists, civil society, youth, media, the European Parliament, the IUCN and States would suggest that the answer is “no”.

12 Nov 2022

The deliberations of this Council meeting, while our governments meet in Egypt to tackle the climate crisis, have shown clearly that humanity has arrived at a crossroads. 

What has brought us here is a broken relationship with nature and a system that puts profit before sustainability, that perpetuates our dependence on finite resources, damages the environment, and causes scarcity, inequity and insecurity in our societies. Among those benefiting from this system are corporations, such as oil and gas companies, that even today continue to accumulate wealth while people and communities are left in crisis. The UN Secretary General was speaking for scientists, youth and citizens across the world when he said in his opening remarks at the UNFCCC COP27 that we are on “a highway to climate hell with our foot still on the accelerator”. 

In this Council meeting, “good faith” is equated to forging ahead on a pathway we know is perilous, by empowering mining corporations to strip mine the last remaining pristine areas of our planet for profit. By letting deep-sea mining happen, possibly as soon as next year, our generation is literally scraping the bottom of the barrel, knowing well that the consequences will be felt by those to come. 

But as we stand together at this crossroads, we know there is another path. It has been shown to us by millions of people worldwide who care deeply about the ocean, and a growing number of States namely Palau, Fiji, Samoa, the Federated States of Micronesia, Costa Rica, Chile, Spain, Ecuador, New Zealand, Germany, Panama and France who want to hit the brakes on deep-sea mining.  

Rather than being remembered as the generation that delivered the final blow to our planet by unleashing a new industry which could have wide-ranging and even catastrophic impacts, wiping out fragile habitats and species and disturbing the ocean carbon cycle1, we ask governments to put sustainability and intergenerational equity first. 

To those States not yet onboard we say this: Take the foot off the accelerator and hit the brakes. We urge you to listen to the calls for precaution and protection and come at the next Council meeting ready to walk alongside those who are resisting deep-sea mining, for the benefit of humankind and in ‘good faith’ towards future generations. A deep-sea mining moratorium is the way forward.

1 Undisturbed: The deep ocean’s vital role in safeguarding us from crisis, is a new report by scientists from the Benioff Ocean Initiative, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and the International Programme on the State of the Ocean, highlighting the important role of the deep ocean in mitigating climate change and warning of the serious threats the deep sea faces.

11 Nov 2022

DR 22

This intervention is given on behalf of The Ocean Foundation as well as DSCC. 

This provision raises the possibility of a contract being pledged as security, and therefore of the mortgagor stepping in the place of the contractor or selling the contract: then the provisions ensuring the suitability of the contractor in Draft Regulation 13 are pointless. Anybody could then be doing the mining. Further, if a contract can be pledged as security, that could render any financial security meaningless, as the only real asset could be the contract itself: a circular outcome that further brings into question where, in what format, and in how much money would  actually be set aside to fulfill various Contractor obligations under the Regulations.

No public participation would have addressed the technical and financial fitness of the owner of the contract and effective control would be rendered meaningless.

Being able to transfer contracts in this way for purely financial reasons could enable a whole new contractor to carry out activities in the Area.

To be specific: we noted last week that Tongan contractor TOML was bought by DeepGreen, yet the due diligence on technical and financial appropriateness was only done for Nautilus, which was by that stage in liquidation.

DR 23

Thank you, on behalf of Oceans North and DSCC, we welcome the comments from PEW, and wish to comment further. We consider DR 23 to be a dangerous provision, as it allows an entity other than the assessed applicant to carry out mining. There is no residual discretion to refuse a transfer even though the identity of the contractor is very important. Currently DR 23 (paragraph 7) reads the LTC “shall recommend approval of the application”  if criteria are satisfied. There is no discretion. It would be unacceptable that a whole different contractor should step into the previous contractor’s shoes, so to speak, automatically after the mining application has been predicated on the assessment of the identity of the applicant under DR 13.

DR 24

This is a critical provision about change in control. The discussions here must be aligned with the discussions of effective control in the institutional working group. We have three points about this draft regulation 24.

Firstly, controlling interest is not defined in paragraph 1 and must be discussed in the context of the Institutional Working Group. 

Secondly, currently as drafted in paragraph 3 the Secretary-General would have full power to determine whether the contractor will have the financial capability to meet its obligations under the exploitation contract. 

Thirdly, even if the Secretary-General does decide to notify the Commission, the only consequence under paragraph 4 is that the Commission shall submit a report of its findings and recommendations to the Council. In other words, there are no consequences to a change in control: this goes to the heart of both effective control and the assessment of the contractor.

DR 27

Contractors should not be required to start commercial mining. There could be many reasons a contractor chooses not to start mining, including concerns or lack of information on the environmental effects of any mining.

Indeed, TMC itself stated in a recent US Securities and Exchange Commission SEC filing that, and I quote, “Operations in the CCZ are certain to disturb wildlife and may impact ecosystem function. Impacts on CCZ biodiversity may never be completely and definitively known”. 

This lack of knowledge underlines why a moratorium on deep-sea mining is essential.

DR 28

Paragraph 3 would require the contractor to suspend production whenever such reduction or suspension is required to protect the Marine Environment from harm or to protect health and safety. We read this as additional to emergency orders to require the contractor to take action before any such measures.

But as discussed in other working groups, the threshold of serious harm is too dangerous. The applicable standard should be to protect the marine environment from any harm as required by  Article 145.