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31 Mar 2023

I make this statement on behalf of the environmental organisations that have been in the room for the past two and a half weeks: AIDA, Environmental Justice Foundation, Greenpeace, Oceans North, Pew, WWF, The Ocean Foundation, and Sustainable Ocean Alliance. Collectively, we represent millions of people, and under the umbrella organisation of the Deep-Sea Conservation Coalition, we work together towards a shared goal: a moratorium on deep-sea mining. We note with gratitude the States defending our right to participate in this process and supporting the inclusion and recognition of indigenous people and their deep connection to the ocean. We also congratulate the Dominican Republic on their announcement this morning that they are joining the call for a precautionary pause. 

As State representatives, you are tasked with making decisions on behalf of all humankind. On this day, the 31st March 2023, you have exactly 100 days until the ISA could receive an application from any sponsoring State to mine the deep. This is not about the LTC per se, it is about States fulfilling their duty to ensure that risk and uncertainty are minimised as much as possible. This is about implementing safeguards and acting as guardians for both our institutions and our planet. This can be achieved by a directive from the Council to its subsidiary organ, the LTC – not to undermine the LTC, but to support and guide it in the biggest decision the ISA has seen to date. 

Although this week it’s proven difficult to reach agreement, one thing we believe we can agree on is that the ISA is a very different place today to what it was just one year ago. Deep-sea mining is no longer the obscure technical issue it once was: today there are political, ethical and philosophical choices to be made. Do we perpetuate an extractive paradigm to the detriment of other more sustainable pathways? Do we literally bulldoze ahead despite the fact that swathes of people from across the spectrum of society are saying “no”? 

Biodiversity conservation is a major viable route to mitigating and reversing climate change. The ocean and the rich web of life it supports play a vital role in carbon cycling and provide much of the very oxygen we breathe. Without a healthy, functioning ocean we risk becoming the fish on the deck of the boat, gasping for air. 
To finish, we’d like to stress that this debate goes beyond the two year loophole and we urge States to start looking beyond July and towards the more distant horizon. Just yesterday, the CEO of The Metals Company said (and I quote) “The ISA isn’t down there deciding whether this is going to happen or not, that is decided.” These misleading comments fail to account for the opinions of millions of private citizens and send a signal to a global market. There will be continued pressure to hastily adopt regulations. States should not be held to ransom by commercial interests. It is your responsibility to ensure you have the time and space required to make evidence-based decisions that will keep our oceans safe, and that will keep us safe.

30 Mar 2023

Under Appendix I notifiable events, 

Under 5 bis, notifiable marine mammal issues should not be limited to fatalities or marine mammals in evident distress; any effects on marine mammals or their behaviour would need to be notifiable; and we support the US that this should not be limited to marine mammals but would need to apply other fauna.

Under item 10.    Adverse environmental conditions with likely significant safety and/or environmental consequences [such as serious harm] needs addressing.

The list of adverse and potential environmental consequences of any DSM is far broader, more open ended and unknowable than is expressed here.

Firstly, the term  significant is problematic.

Secondly, The term serious harm is too high a threshold.  Any environmental harm should be notifiable.

And thirdly the term “adverse environmental conditions” is vague. We would need to include ‘situations, issues, and consequences.’

29 Mar 2023

On DR 32:

It is unacceptable for the contractor to be able to not reduce risk to the “point where the cost of further risk reduction would be grossly disproportionate to the benefits of such reduction, and taking into account the relevant Guidelines.” The environment should be effectively protected without cost being a consideration. Art 145 is not predicated on practicability or cost.

DSCC intervention on DR 2, paragraph 4

For Paragraph 4:

There would need to be a fundamental principle regarding the management of activities in the international seabed area being to ensure no loss of biodiversity, as well as additional references to obligations in Articles 145 and 194, and more recent global high level political commitments that we believe should be included in the paragraph drawing on Sustainable Development Goal 14, the calls to halt and reverse biodiversity made at Rio+20 and in the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework adopted by COP-15 and the COP-15  decision on marine and coastal biodiversity related to deep-sea mining. These include protecting rare or fragile ecosystems and their habitats, depleted, threatened or endanger species; that other forms of marine life will be also protected; and that there will be no interference with the ecological balance of marine ecosystems and with ecosystem services, degradation of their resilience, or other harmful effects to the marine environment including its biological diversity and ecological integrity;

These capture additional relevant obligations in UNCLOS and key political commitments made in regard to the protection of the marine environment and the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in ABNJ

Para 4 of the Regulation should also refer, in particular, to the principles and approaches agreed in BBNJ in its Article 5 including:

    (f)  An integrated approach to ocean management;

    (g) An approach that builds ecosystems resilience, including to adverse effects of climate change and ocean acidification, and also maintains and restores ecosystem integrity, including the carbon cycling services that underpin the ocean’s role in climate;

(h) The use of the best available science and scientific information;

(i) The use of relevant traditional knowledge of Indigenous Peoples and local communities, where available;

(j) The respect, promotion and consideration of their respective obligations, as applicable, relating to the rights of Indigenous Peoples or of, as appropriate, local communities when taking action to address the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction;


  (k) The non-transfer, directly or indirectly, of damage or hazards from one area to another and the non-transformation of one type of pollution into another, in taking measures to prevent reduce, and control pollution of the marine environment;

These are additional obligations and high level political commitments high level adopted more recently that should give greater substance and specificity to the obligations contained in article 145 of UNCLOS.

Thank you

28 Mar 2023
  • Referring to the discussion on the floor, as France noted, it is important to remember that Article 145 is not qualified. We strongly support the UK and Pew’s interventions in this regard.
  • In addition, we would add that under Art 192 of the Convention, States have the obligation to protect and preserve the marine environment. There is no qualification attached to this crucial provision.
  • Nor is there any balance referred to in  the agreed general principles and approaches in the very recently agreed BBNJ Agreement.

  • We thank the facilitators for their proposal. As you will see from the very top of the document, we believe these would need to set out   fundamental principles rather than Principles, Approaches and Policies. 
  • We believe that it would be problematic if this regulation does not set out fundamental principles which may not be contravened, such as common heritage of humankind, the precautionary principle and effective protection of the marine environment which cannot be weighed against other matters. That is why they should be fundamental.

  • As everyone in the room is aware, there is something new, and that is that since the last meeting, BBNJ was concluded. Marine biodiversity and the need to prevent its loss is of course central to the discussion taking place here. 
  • For these reasons we believe that a reference to BBNJ once it is open for signature would be appropriate in para 8. 
  • Thank you
27 Mar 2023
  • We would like to begin by thanking and congratulating Finland and Vanuatu, the two latest countries to join the group of States calling for the suspension of deep-sea mining activities. We would also particularly like to celebrate Palau, who for the first time, brought their pioneering moratorium position to the floor of the ISA on Friday, and also France for their initiative of the joint call to action announced this morning. Our thanks to all the other countries in the ever-growing group sending the strong political signals that are required at this critical stage. We stand beside you.
  • Dear delegates, as country representatives, you are charged with making decisions on behalf of humankind as a whole. But have you asked the populations you represent what they think about deep-sea mining?  Hundreds of thousands of people from around the globe are signing petitions against deep-sea mining, indigenous leaders and youth groups are speaking out loud and clear, scientists are raising alarm, corporates are stepping back. They do not consent. We ask you to keep that in mind as you proceed with the important decisions you are making at the ISA on our behalf. 
  • In the presentation by The Metals Company last week, we saw images of the fabulous creatures of the deep examined during the exploration phase. There is so much beauty in the deepest reaches of our earth. But these creatures are not just pictures on a screen – they are the inhabitants of the very area that is penned for destruction. But there’s still so much we don’t know. We must allow time to establish comprehensive scientific understanding and legitimate processes, to ensure that we make the right decisions on behalf not only of humankind, but of all-kind. 
  • With a voting structure that is heavily weighted in favour of Plans of Work being granted if the LTC issues a recommendation, it’s imperative that States remain in control of the process – any other scenario is simply too risky and runs counter to States’ obligations to effectively protect the marine environment and prevent damage to the flora and fauna. States cannot leave these decisions in the hands of an LTC that meets behind closed-doors, particularly when we have already seen an example of the lack of due process of this organ when the NORI test mine was granted approval last year. 
  • Numerous states have expressed the opinion that there should be no exploitation in absence of regulations, but there should also be no regulations in the absence of independent science and the guaranteed protection of the marine environment. We remind delegates that the regulations you are discussing here would pertain not only to polymetallic nodules in the CCZ, but to all other deep-sea environments marked for extractive activities. We cannot accept a scenario where mining could proceed in circumstances steeped in uncertainty – likely to inflict everlasting damage. For this reason, we urge you to seek ambitious solutions that ensure there is no risk of the LTC providing a positive recommendation of an application to mine. Anything less would contravene States’ duties under UNCLOS to protect the marine environment.
  • Thank you.
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

26 Mar 2023

March 2023


  • We do not yet know enough about the deep seabed, but many of us here, as well as over 700 scientists, have endorsed the view that we should not be so cavalier about moving forward effectively. We are asking all of us as members of this esteemed body to resist the siren song of industry, which promises millions of quick dollars, but at the risk and expense of our environment, as well as aspects of intergenerational equity and the rights of our future generations.
  • We view that the 2 year rule does not require that the LTC make a recommendation and the Council automatically approve a Plan of Work. 
24 Mar 2023

March 2023


  • The republic of Vanuatu is committed to UNCLOS Article 145 and we will continue to engage in negotiations.
  • As SIDS – we are at the frontlines of climate change – we are concerned about additional pressures. Vanuatu is one of the most vulnerable countries of the world.
  • We join the growing calls for a precautionary pause and align with member States making this call. There are different terms that we use precautionary pause or moratorium that we are using in this context – what matters most is the actions not the words.
  • Science shows that DSM will cause irreversible damage to the unique biodiversity of the deep sea. It would go beyond harming the seabed. Given the irreversible harm of DSM on the ocean, we have the following priorities:
    • 1) Support growing calls for pause on DSM
    • 2) RRPs should not be adopted until we have sufficient scientific information until we can be guaranteed no biodiversity loss
    • 3) Ask countries to not grant any contracts, as this would be contrary to our international commitments.


  • We would like to present preliminary views and general position about the two year rule, for lack of robust scientific information on deep sea ecosystems and biodiversity and the considerable and irreversible, my delegation aligns with member states that express the views the rules, regulations and procedures should not be adopted until we have robust scientific information about biodiversity and impacts.
  • RRPs should not be adopted until it can be guaranteed that there will be no loss of biodiversity and no harm to marine environment.
  • Vanuatu officially joins growing international call for precautionary pause on deep-sea mining to protect our ocean and aligns with members states of ISA making this call.  
  • We encourage our fellow pacific states who expressed interest in DSM to step back from the brink and join us in a precautionary approach as a region and as a world.
24 Mar 2023

Good morning everyone, Mr. Chairman, Dear Delegates,

On this day of discussions dedicated to the Two-Year Rule, which could see seabed mining begin long before there is sufficient scientific data to ensure the effective protection of our greatest ally in the climate crisis, the deep ocean, I wish to address you to bring the voice of my generation. 

Before that, I would like to thank and congratulate Vanuatu for its decision to join the call for a precautionary pause; along with twelve other states, including the pioneer country, Palau, and Chile, the Federated States of Micronesia, France, Fiji, Germany, New Zealand and Panama, who reiterated their positions at this meeting.

I would also like to extend my heartfelt thanks to Hinano, Uncle Sol, Jonathan, Alanna, the representatives of the Pacific Peoples whose voices must resonate here. The Pacific communities they represent will be the ones directly impacted by the decisions you, the delegates, make here. As part of the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition delegation, I am speaking today to bring the voice of another group that is not well represented here: those of my generation and the next.

My name is Anne-Sophie, I am the French representative of the Sustainable Ocean Alliance, and with the #LookDown collective, which I created with the activist Camille Etienne here, we have mobilized tens of thousands of young people asking our governments to take a stand against deep sea mining, first in France, then today in Belgium, Italy, Switzerland, the Netherlands and other countries around the world. Today more than ever, these tens of thousands of young people are watching you. 

Dear delegates, we are witnesses to the decisions you will make in the coming months. These decisions that will be taken here, in the shelter of this conference center, will have irreversible consequences, for biodiversity as for the climate. The young people whose voices I represent today must be an integral part of these decisions, because they will affect our lives.

Delegates, the science is clear: we do not have the luxury of opening the Pandora’s box of deep-sea mining. We cannot afford to sacrifice our greatest ally in the climate crisis, the deep ocean, on the altar of the extractivist model that is already a thing of the past.

The living conditions of my generation, and those of the next, will already be profoundly altered by the devastating impacts of the environmental crisis. Deep-sea mining will only exacerbate them. And you still have the power to prevent it. 

Dear delegates, you, who represent the member states of the Council of the International Seabed Authority, must be at the helm of the decisions that will impact our lives. You must ensure that my generation, your children’s generation, will have a healthy ocean, that is, livable conditions on land. 

When you make your decisions here, I ask you to keep in mind the cry of those tens of thousands of young people of my generation. We are standing on a narrow and decisive line: you are at the place where you can choose to have the courage to take that step aside, to listen to the scientists, and not to make decisions that will send us into the abyss of history. 

It is now or never. 

We have a very brief comment on DR 104. It is not only the costs and expenses incurred by the Authority that the contractor must be liable for, but all effects, including environmental effects, of the violation. This would seem obvious, and is completely missing, due to the lack of a liability regime. The polluter pays principle requires nothing less.

Effective compliance is dependent on effective control, and the issue of effective compliance has yet to be discussed by the Council. A recent example of the issue of effective control and compliance is the takeover of UK Seabed Resources by Norwegian company Loke Minerals. It seems blindingly obvious that effective control has changed from the United States to Norway, yet like previous takeovers such as DeepGreen’s takeover of Nautilus’s ownership of Tonga Offshore Mining Ltd (TOML), and other issues with TMC subsidiaries the LTC does not investigate the new owners and, in practice, new operators, at all. Not only are changes in control going uninvestigated, longstanding issues of effective control like the question of where effective control of The Metals Company and NORI lies, are not being pursued. This is not only contrary to the principle of common heritage of humankind, which underpins the Convention and which is reinforced by BBNJ, but is, as was shown in a paper for the ISA by Andre Rojas and Freedom Ka Phillips, inconsistent with the requirements of UNCLOS. Of course effective control of UK Seabed Resources in any sense has now changed to Norway. 

So to address  the concept of effective compliance, as is required by the liability provisions of Article 139 of the Convention, without addressing effective control is meaningless.