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17 Jul 2023

On the Report of the Secretary-General on the implementation of the decision of the Council in 2022 relating to the reports of the Chair of the Legal and Technical Commission (ISBA/28/C/15)

Thank you Mr President and Good morning delegates. This intervention is delivered on behalf of Greenpeace International, Oceans North, the Ocean Foundation, WWF and the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition

Thank you Mr President and thanks to the Secretary-General for the report.

We note that the report states in paragraph 5 that as of 31 May 2023, the Secretary-General had not identified any instances of alleged non-compliance by contractors in relation to their operations at sea or in the conduct of their plans of work for exploration.

However, the CARMU Report on the NORI spill Doc. No: INV/2023/NRU/001/Supp.1 found in paragraph  that the collector system component test Inspection report of  20 February 2023 considers that NORI’s risk management and I quote “lacked the expected robustness. Decision-making, incident management and execution were not rooted in a robust risk-based assessment, and Contractor personnel on board the Hidden Gem did not fully apply internally established risk management tools and procedures during the event“ end of quote.

The report went on to say that no accurate flow rate could be produced. No water sampling was made during the normalization phase of the surface water’s appearance and no photographs were taken during the surface plume dispersion process.

The report further found that the “Contractor should, and could, have notified ISA of the event and the action taken to control it, within a much shorter time frame. In fact, ISA was not notified until 16 days after the event. It is suggested that the Contractor could reasonably have notified ISA within 24-48 hours.”

If these were not considered findings of non-compliance, then in our view they should have been.

To turn to the late submissions of reports, mentioned in paragraphs 7 and 8 of the report, it is also difficult to understand why the contractors who reported very late are not named, in the interests of transparency, and we join Fiji in their observations on this.

Turning to paragraph 20, on the silence procedure, we believe that the LTC Chair’s report on the silence procedure did not address the key issue “The Commission noted that it would continue to use the silence procedure in combination with its remote and in person plenary meetings and will consider the flexibility of the time limit of 72 hours”. The silence procedure has been used within the ISA and other international organizations during COVID-19 to pass matters such as the budget when the relevant body cannot meet. It is not appropriate to force such a rapid decision on a substantive matter such as approval of an EIA. If the Commission is not able to meet in person, it could meet virtually, rather than simply send out an email where a non-reply within 3 days is taken to signify consent.

Finally, it seems from paragraph 22 of the report that, as has happened for the last 5 years, the requests of the LTC to hold open meetings have been ignored, and certainly have not been actioned, and we join Brazil and Belgium on their comments on this.

On DR 6

Thank you Co-facilitators and it is good to see you at the podium again.

Your presentation was very helpful. In particular, you looked at what it must mean in UNCLOS, which is of course where we must look. Because the current so-called regulatory approach cannot be right. We fully support the proposed webinar 

In effect, all an applicant needs to do is to incorporate a shell company inside the sponsoring State, make the application in the name of that entity and effective control is satisfied. 

An example may help. We wrote letters when TMC’s predecessor DeepGreen took over TOML from Nautilus to seek to clarify how the ISA considered the transaction satisfied the test of effective control, but no satisfactory response was received.

Last month, the ISA placed on its website a paper on effective control. The paper can be found under the publications tab on the website.

The Wolmesley discussion paper and the 2019 Andre Rojas and Freedom Kai Phillips papers reach very different conclusions, underlining the need for a considered discussion. This is a crucial issue which has been all but ignored year upon year.

We have long had concerns about the lack of discussion in the Council about effective control and what we believe is an appropriate so-called regulatory test which has been applied by the ISA.

This latest paper gives us no comfort. It does not even refer to the paper published in 2019 by the ISA by Andrés Sebastián Rojas and Freedom-Kai Phillips, where the authors analysed the UNCLOS provisions and concluded that “an interpretation of effective control that is limited only to regulatory control would miss key objectives of the LOSC, “and that “economic control analysis is also needed to fulfill the concept of “effective control” under the LOSC, thereby providing a distinct alternative to nationality”.

It is high time that there was an in-depth discussion of effective control, hopefully in a workshop context as has been suggested in the institutional working group.

14 Jul 2023

July 2023


  • The delegation stated that the common heritage of humankind is a harbor of vast biodiversity and treasures playing a crucial role in climate stability and regulation and cannot be underestimated
  • Bangladesh stated that they are strongly against approving a plan of work without rules and regulations in place.


  • As it has not been possible to conclude negotiations on rules, regulations and procedures for deep-sea mining within the 2 year rule, Bangladesh asked how can a plan of work can be approved without having these regulations in place, and raised that it would be quite a risk to do so. 
  • Strong and robust regulations are a must. 
  • Bangladesh stated that the simple science actually tells us we must act wisely in ensuring the health and biodiversity of the ocean. Any future mining activity must ensure the health of the sea, biodiversity and the risks are understood. 
14 Jul 2023

JULY 2023


  • Monaco declares that it will “clearly and explicitly oppose any mining plan in the current state of scientific knowledge, which is particularly insufficient. It reiterates that no work plan should be carried out without a regulatory framework that takes into account reliable irrefutable scientific data and ensures effective protection of the marine environment as a whole. “


  • Monaco supports the inclusion of agenda item establishing a general policy by the Assembly related to the consultation of the marine environment under the two year rule, proposed by Chile, Costa Rica, France, Palau, and Vanuatu. Monaco states the Assembly should be able to debate all matters that are important to the various Member States. 


  • Monaco raised the need to ensure the Area benefits from environmental impact studies that are irrefutable in nature. The data from those studies needs to be made available. 


  • Monaco holds it is still not appropriate to approve a plan of work without first ensuring regulations to ensure optimum protection of the Area.
  • The Seabed is in the preamble to the Convention and indeed the operative part of the 1982 convention devotes the longest part, XI. 
  • Reiterated Monaco’s firm position to take the necessary time to develop the framework, acceptable to all States. Only science can lead us to achieving this vital goal for the climate and all of humanity.
14 Jul 2023

On the two year rule

Thank you Mr. President and our thanks to the co-facilitators of the Intersessional dialogue for their hard work on this difficult task. This short intervention is on behalf of the DSCC, Oceans North, The Ocean Foundation, TBA21 and WWF.  We know everyone is ready to start their weekend, so we thank you for your indulgence and we promise to keep it brief.

The ISA sits at a crossroads: a pivotal moment in the history of ocean governance. It is up to you to decide on behalf of humankind whether to open up the Area to large-scale resource extraction. There remain enormous gaps in our understanding of deep-sea species and ecosystems, alongside warnings of irreversible harm to the marine environment, including potential disruption of vital ecosystem services provided by the open ocean and deep sea, such as global climate regulation. We need to start working with nature to provide for society’s needs, rather than against it. 

We would like to recognise the ever growing momentum for a pause on deep-sea mining and we thank those States for their bold political leadership. Many movements that changed the world began with a few brave people who lit a torch in the darkness and found a new path which others followed. This is the nature of adapting our norms and our systems to respond to our changing times.

We agree with views expressed by many, that the Council must retain control of the situation by directing the LTC not to make a formal recommendation on an application for a plan of work. In this context of uncertainty, it is the role of the Council to provide guidelines and directives to the LTC, in order to clarify the procedures under the two-year rule. 

But beyond the two-year rule, we once again reiterate our call for a longer-term suspension of deep-sea mining activities in the form of a moratorium or precautionary pause. States must avoid a scenario where they are subject to continual pressure to adopt regulations and allow this high risk extractive activity to proceed in a landscape of uncertainty and risk of irreversible harm to the marine environment. Today, the ISA cannot ensure the effective protection of the marine environment from the harmful effects of deep-sea mining, which is why political and legal safeguards must be put in place to protect both our institutions and our ocean.

13 Jul 2023


Even if just ‘a test’, test mining has environmental impacts and should not be permitted unless and until there is enough scientific information to be able to judge that effective protection of the marine environment from harmful effects is ensured, and that it would not result in biodiversity loss. It was clear from the NORI EIA that there simply is not an adequate baseline available and the environmental impact assessment provisions are rudimentary.

In the NORI test last year, there was a breakdown of process that resulted in an unplanned spill – indicating once again the risky nature of this activity, even on a small scale.

Finally, accountability, transparency and process were lacking in the procedure undertaken by the LTC to approve the test mine.

DR 47bis: 

As we discuss the matter of Environmental Impact Assessments, it is important to take a step back and consider the following fundamental question: Do we know ‘enough’ to reliably “predict the environmental impacts of deep-sea mining”? Do we know ‘enough’? 

Many of us attended the excellent presentation by biologist Dr Muriel Rabone last night. Dr Rabone’s recent research estimates that some 90% of the species living on or near the seabed in the Clarion Clipperton Zone have yet to be named, and thousands remain undiscovered.

Research published last year by Dr Diva Amon and her team found that 88% of deep-sea mining stakeholders agreed that deep-sea scientific knowledge is currently too sparse to ensure the protection of the marine environment from the impacts of commercial mining operations.

Another recent study by the German research institute, AWI, by the German research institute, AWI, found levels of radioactivity in manganese nodules that, in some cases, exceed the safe limit defined in the German Radiation Protection Ordinance. And yet, there are no proposed requirements for radioactive controls for health and safety, nor for the study of the presence of radioactive elements and the impact of those elements on the marine environment.

These three studies add to the ever-growing body of scientific research that is providing the answer to the question we raise: No, we do not know ‘enough’ to reliably predict the impacts of deep-sea mining, and as both Dr Rabone and Dr Amon suggest: it is likely to be decades before we do. 

And, finally, to echo a question raised last night, what is ‘enough’? Well, the answer is clearly stated in this draft regulation: ‘enough’ is when the ISA can “ensure effective protection for the marine environment from harmful effects”. Today, there can be no confidence that deep-sea mining could proceed without risking harm to the marine environment, at a time when the protection of this vital carbon sink should be a top priority. 

There is a lot we don’t know, but one thing we do know is that deep sea mining must not be allowed to proceed in the current climate of risk and uncertainty, if States are truly to honour their obligations under UNCLOS and other international agreements.

Finally, a comment on the wording in Paragraph 2(c) that refers to “serious harm”, which places the threshold of harm far too high, whereas Article 145 requires the prevention of harm altogether.

12 Jul 2023

DR 44 

Bula Madam Facilitator

This is being delivered on behalf of Oceans North, WWF and DSCC.

We welcome the inclusion of traditional and Indigenous knowledge in para 1(a)(iiii) but this Regulation does not include a requirement to actively identify and protect cultural values with respect to the Area. This includes specific obligations to obtain the free and informed consent of indigenous communities, prior to the approval of any plan of work.

As France, Switzerland and others have noted, the BBNJ Agreement has been adopted. We are concerned that this Regulation has no reference to ensuring the protection of biodiversity. In light of other international commitments, it is incumbent upon the ISA to ensure there is no loss of biodiversity, damage to the flora and fauna of the marine environment, or degradation of ecosystems and ecosystem services. The current text does not include the authoritative Principles and Approaches listed in the BBNJ Agreement Article 7.

On the proposed paragraph 2(g):

On climate mitigation and ecosystems and nutrient cycling, we believe that the obligation as phrased is far too weak. An EIA would need to ensure that no plan of work could be approved if it harms any of these processes and an operation would need to stop if it was in any way harming these critical processes.

In all of DR 44 there is still no reference to cumulative impacts, including for example the impacts of climate change and noise, and the need to prevent environmental damage not only in areas directly impacted but in all affected areas. All cumulative impacts must be taken into account.

Finally, we would like to conclude by emphasising that, as has been repeatedly scientifically demonstrated, the mitigation hierarchy is not applicable to  deep-sea mining due to the unique nature of the ecosystem functions of such environments that are not replicable elsewhere and due to the longevity of impacts. This is why it is imperative to uphold the obligation in article 145 paragraph (b) to prevent damage to the fauna and flora of the marine environment. 

Prevention of damage sets a threshold of “no harm” – anything less departs from the provisions of Article 145. 


DR 47

We agree with the comments made by Switzerland related to stakeholder consultation and believe that broader and more robust provisions for stakeholder participation in the EIA process are required. 

We also agree with the comments by Switzerland and New Zealand in regard to offsets and the mitigation hierarchy. 

In paragraph 3(c), the references to “minimize, control, mitigate or, if possible, offset and manage environmental effects” and in paragraph 3(d) “identification of measures envisaged to remediate, restore, rehabilitate (where possible) the marine environment” presupposes that harmful effects would be allowed by the ISA. As we have stated previously, the scientific literature, and most recently the European Academies of Science Advisory Council report released last month, concludes that the mitigation hierarchy is not applicable to mining activity in the deep sea. Moreover, the inclusion of these provisions would establish what we view as a dangerous loophole to allow exploitation to proceed without the ISA being in compliance with the obligations in Article 145 to ensure effective protection of the marine environment from harmful effects and prevent damage to the fauna and flora of the marine environment.

11 Jul 2023

Regarding the ISA commissioned Value of Ecosystem Services and Natural Capital in the Area report:

Thank you Mr Chair

DSCC intervened on this issue at the start of this meeting on behalf of DSCC, WWF, Oceans North, The Ocean Foundation, and Greenpeace International, and the Pew Charitable Trusts and so we will be brief here.

The authors noted that the economic value of ecosystem services tends not to be taken into consideration in decisions regarding the use or conservation of the marine environment. That is what we are seeing here.

This is not a reason to ignore it. It is reason to work even harder to address it, to improve our understanding of the deep sea and its value to the world and to humanity.

There are a number of ramifications of environmental costs for the Authority. It seems clear that any discussion of financial terms should include a discussion of economic costs and economic damage, and as this is not within the expertise of MIT, we would suggest that the authors of the report be invited at a future meeting to share their expertise.

It also has obvious ramifications for liability, which has yet to be addressed. Article 235 of the Convention provides that States are responsible for the fulfilment of their international obligations concerning the protection and preservation of the marine environment and that they shall be liable in accordance with international law, and further requires States to co-operate in the implementation of existing international law as well as the further development of international law relating to responsibility and liability for the assessment of and compensation for damage.

This can’t be done without some understanding of the value of that marine environment. And that in turn needs a real discussion, rather than a few minutes at the end of the meeting.

Thank you.

10 Jul 2023

This intervention is on behalf of the DSCC, WWF, The Ocean Foundation and Greenpeace International.

When discussing financial payment systems for mining in the deep sea, we cannot ignore the issue of the economic value of the deep sea and the damage to the deep sea. Again, we have heard nothing about environmental economic matters in this discussion today. Delegates will recall that the Council requested a study on the valuation of ecosystem services and natural capital of the Area.

We would like to acknowledge the completion of the study by Dr Luke Brander and Victoria Guisado Goni, entitled the Report on the value of ecosystem services and natural capital of the Area, on 31 May. Unsurprisingly, the study shows that it is currently not feasible to conduct value transfers to estimate robust, or even indicative, global values for the Area. The authors found that the intended use of economic value estimates is to design mechanisms for internalizing external costs of mining activities, which arguably requires a high degree of certainty, and that the limited availability of studies & data implies that additional research and knowledge are needed to distill robust solutions which can be used in a policy context.

However, the authors also noted that external costs due to negative impacts on ecosystem services in the water column are potentially high, including reduced carbon sequestration by phytoplankton and impacts on marine megafauna, for which there are high existence and bequest values. We also note in this context that a number of scientific studies have shown that restoration is not a viable option.

This study adds to the ever-growing body of evidence that tells us what we already know: there is not enough data to allow for responsible, evidence-based decision-making with regards to deep-sea mining. Such a scenario gives rise to the precautionary principle, under which, if applied faithfully, the only reasonable measure to prevent environmental degradation is for deep-sea mining not to proceed.

We welcome the exercise of identifying and reporting on the gaps in understanding of deep-sea ecosystems and the impacts of mining, and encourage member States to apply this approach systematically.

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.