The Fossil of the Day Award is a daily award given during the annual UNFCCC COP to those countries who “are the best at being the worst and doing the most to do the least”. Countries are nominated by Climate Action Network (CAN) International and the award is determined by a CAN Members’ vote. On December 6th, CAN selected Norway to receive second place for their role in deep sea mining. Read their press statement here.
In response to this, the DSCC issued a statement: “This award to Norway reveals the fallacy that deep-sea mining is any kind of solution for our planet. Protecting the deep sea, keeping it intact and functioning, is one of the most important things we can do to help avert the climate crisis. The deep ocean is a vital, natural climate solution given its role in carbon sequestration and storage. Norway must abandon its plans to mine and instead join the growing group of champion governments calling for a halt to deep-sea mining.”
DSCC calls for a ban on bottom trawling on seamounts
New Zealand orange roughy caught off the east and south Chatham Rise – amounting to around 80% of the New Zealand catch – has lost its sustainability certification from the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) today, with the fishing industry “self-suspending” its own fishery.
Losing the sustainability label is crucial to the industry: it’s a key selling point for consumers in the US which takes more than half New Zealand orange roughy exports.
Environmentalists say the only thing that could save the fishery would be a ban on the thing destroying it – bottom trawling on seamounts, labeling the sustainability change “the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff”.
“The orange roughy fishery has lost its certification for a number of reasons, one of them being that the New Zealand government has withdrawn its stock assessment for this fishery, as it was shown to be wrong,” said Barry Weeber of ECO, a member of the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition (DSCC). “What was supposed to be a booming fishery was not, with catch rates declining and fish were missing or much reduced from major spawning areas, there was just not the fish there to support this.”
Last year, the MSC recertified the fishery, despite the DSCC informing it of the issues around the stock assessment. Last month, the MSC’s agent in the Pacific, MRAGs, conducted an audit. DSCC coalition coordinator Karli Thomas wrote to them as they started the audit, setting out concerns over the sustainability of the fishery.
“The NZ bottom trawl industry is trying to save face by “self-suspending” their MSC certification because if they didn’t do so, the MSC would have had to do it for them. There is no
way that deep sea fish bottom trawled off their seamount breeding grounds from a population without a stock assessment can be passed off as sustainable,” said Thomas.
The news comes as the DSCC today released a video to mark World Fisheries Day (see download link below), calling for a ban on bottom trawling on seamounts. Greenpeace Oceans Campaigner Ellie Hooper said a ban is the only thing that’s going to save orange roughy.
“If the New Zealand fishing industry had stopped trawling seamounts decades ago, the orange roughy fishery would not be in the appalling state it’s in today. It’s way past time for the government to step in and close these biodiversity hotspots to bottom trawling, once and for all. “We want a fishing industry to be proud of, not an international embarrassment that even the MSC can’t sugar-coat any longer,” said Hooper.
The DSCC argues the certification should also be stripped from the rest of this destructive fishery. In particular, during the most recent stock assessment process, scientists warned that the stock assessment for the Northwest Chatham Rise sub stock was not reliable, but the decision was taken only to acknowledge it was more uncertain because there had not been enough investigation into it. This is the very opposite of the precautionary principle, which calls for erring on the side of caution, and conservation, where there is inadequate data.
Barry Weeber ECO 021 738 807 Ellie Hooper Greenpeace 022 561 1340 Karli Thomas (in EUROPE) – via whatsapp – 021 905 582
The International Seabed Authority (ISA) Council meeting concluded on November 8 in Kingston, Jamaica. States continued to negotiate a mining code that, if it is adopted, would open the fragile deep sea to deep-sea mining, raising the need for a moratorium on this destructive industry now. The Deep Sea Conservation Coalition (DSCC), representing over 100 non-governmental organizations around the world, has been present in Kingston during the negotiations from October 30 – November 8.
Since the beginning of the 28th Session of the ISA in March 2023, momentum for a moratorium or precautionary pause has continued to grow, with 11 new states calling to halt the industry. The United Kingdom was the latest to announce its support for a moratorium on the opening day of the Council meeting (30 October), bringing the total number of countries to 23 calling for a moratorium, precautionary pause, or ban on the industry.
This week countries will convene in Kingston, Jamaica for the International Seabed Authority’s Council meeting to negotiate a mining code 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.
“We are facing a critical moment to reinforce the EU’s ongoing leadership, legal obligation, and accountability toward safeguarding one of the most vulnerable and biologically diverse areas of the planet, Sian Owen writes.” – Read an opinion piece by DSCC Director Sian Owen calling for the protection of Seamounts and other vulnerable marine ecosystems in European waters published on euronews.
Oslo, Norway (October 2nd) – Today activists from around the world joined forces in a joint protest against Norway’s plans to open 281,000 square kilometers of its ocean – an area larger than the size of the UK – to deep seabed mining in the sensitive Arctic. The activists believe that this is in direct conflict with Norway’s role in the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy (Ocean Panel). They demand that Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre resigns as co-chair of the Ocean Panel if the Norwegian Parliament does not halt the opening process. Today, a letter with this demand was sent from over 30 organizations* and delivered at over 20 Norwegian embassies on all continents.
The deep sea harbours a vulnerable and largely unexplored nature and wildlife. Less than 1 per cent of the area that Norway plans to open for deep sea mining has been mapped by biologists. The Norwegian government knows virtually nothing about the ecosystems that are in danger of disappearing completely because of the new destructive industry.
The protest, which is happening on the day the Norwegian parliament opens for the fall session, is an expression of a strong and united opposition to deep sea mining, across continents and organisations. Norway’s plans to open its deep sea for mining will be discussed in parliament and a decision will be made in the near future.
The activists are not alone in their criticism. Scientists both in Norway and globally have warned against deep sea mining, and over 20 countries, including Canada, Chile, Fiji, France, Portugal, Palau, Spain, Germany, Sweden, Finland and New Zealand, are speaking out against it and calling for a ban or a pause. Multinational companies such as Google, Samsung, Volvo and BMW have pledged not to source any minerals from the seabed. Norway’s claims that the minerals are needed for the green transition is not correct, and has been called misleading by leading scientists.
Norway’s plan to start deep seabed mining in the Arctic contradicts all scientific advice from research institutions in Norway and abroad. This decision goes against the government’s own environmental agency, which states that the knowledge gaps are so large that the criteria for an impact assessment are not fulfilled and doesn’t adequately address potential transboundary impacts to other nations or on other industries like fisheries because of a serious lack of scientific data.
Local groups have organized protests outside Norwegian embassies in over 16 countries where they also deliver an open letter to the Norwegian Prime Minister with the same demand: Jonas Gahr Støre has to prove that Norway is a leading nation for a sustainable ocean, or resign from his position as the Co-Chair for the Ocean Panel. Activists from Australia to the US, from Mozambique to Brussels, have shown up to put pressure on Norway. They fear for the vulnerable Arctic nature, and that an opening decision in Norway’s can lead to deep sea mining in international waters – which covers almost 50% of the planet.
Quotes from the organisations behind the demand:
Global Policy Lead for WWFs No Deep Seabed Mining Initiative, Kaja Lønne Fjærtoft: “It is not too late to live up to the responsibilities as co-chair of the Ocean Panel and to establish Norway as a leading country in the increasing opposition to deep-sea mining. We urge Norway to step back from the brink of greenlighting this destructive industry and to support a global moratorium on deep-sea mining.”
Global Campaign Lead for the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition, Sofia Tsenikli:
“By embarking on mining in the deep sea without sufficient knowledge, we risk destroying unique nature, eradicating vulnerable species and disrupting the world’s largest carbon sink. At a time when humanity is racing against the clock to tackle both the climate crisis and the biodiversity crisis, we should protect nature – not destroy it.”
Sustainable Ocean Alliance Deep Sea Mining Europe Lead & LookDown co-founder, Anne-Sophie Roux:
“Norway is already falling behind in the protection of the deep sea in international waters. Following the government’s recent announcement to mine the deep ocean in Norwegian waters, in the fragile and pristine Arctic Ocean, we urgently need a global and strong mobilization. We, as the international community, rely on the Arctic and the deep sea for the stability of our global climate. We can’t afford to lose them. Join us asking Norway to #StopDeepSeaMining.”
Gina Gylver, Chair of Young Friends of the Earth Norway (Natur og Ungdom):
“We are so grateful that activists across the world are joining forces to put pressure on the Norwegian government. Many think of Norway as a “green” nation, but the dangerously rapid opening process for deep sea mining with a catastrophic lack of knowledge, reveals what’s really going on. Our prime minister Støre, cannot say yes to deep sea mining and continue to be the leader of the International Ocean Panel. Our country has to prove for the world that we act on science, not prestige.”
Louisa Casson, senior campaigner for Greenpeace’s Stop Deep Sea Mining campaign:
“Norway opening for Deep Sea Mining while chairing the international Ocean panel, and committing to 100% sustainable use of its waters, is hypocrisy and risks destroying both ecosystems in the vulnerable Arctic and Norway’s reputation internationally. If Norway decides to proceed with their plans, they must give up their seat in the Ocean Panel to a state that delivers on ocean protection.”
Martin Webeler, Deep-Sea Mining Campaign Lead for the Environmental Justice Foundation:
“By opening its waters to deep-sea mining, Norway would be instrumental in pushing open the door to the global introduction of an industry that will cause unprecedented damage to our ocean. We call on Norway to abandon these plans in order to meet its obligations as a member of the Ocean Panel and a signatory to the High Seas Agreement.”
Notes to editors
Contacts: Elena Solberg, Media Relations Manager, WWF-Norway, phone: +47 48204130. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Matthew Gianni, co-founder and policy advisor, Deep Sea Conservation Coalition +31646168899
Anne Sophie Roux, Deep Sea Mining Europe Lead & LookDown co-founder, +33 7 67 38 53 50
The intensity and methods of deep seabed mining could destroy entire habitats, species and the services they provide. Many species living in the deep sea are found nowhere else; disturbances in just one mining site could wipe out entire species. The consequences could very well be irreversible for the ocean and humanity.
Over 99 per cent of the area that Norway plans to open for deep sea mining have not been described by science. We therefore know little about the consequences mining (both exploration and exploitation) may have on wildlife and vulnerable ecosystems in the deep sea.
More than 750 scientists have asked for a pause on the industry because there isn’t enough rigorous scientific information available concerning deep sea species and ecosystems.
Atotal of 21 countries have to date joined in the call for a ban, precautionary pause or moratorium on deep seabed mining and a number ofleading companies such as Google, Volkswagen Group and Phillips have already said they won’t accept deep-sea minerals in their supply chains.
Norway could be the first country in the world to start deep sea mining .
On 20 June 2023, the Norwegian government presented a white paper proposing to open for mining in the deep sea. The area is located on the western edge of the Norwegian continental shelf in the Arctic, near Svalbard. The Parliament will discuss and vote on the preposition during the autumn.
The organisations behind the letter to Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre: AbibiNsroma Foundation, The Blue Climate Initiative, Civil Society Forum of Tonga. Deep Sea Mining Campaign. Deutsche Stiftung Meeresschutz (DSM), Ecologistas en Acción. Environmental Justice Foundation, Greenpeace, Kiwis Against Seabed Mining (KASM), #LookDown, Oceans North, Sciaena, Seas At Risk, SeaLegacy, Sharkproject, Sustainable Ocean Alliance, Te Ipukarea Society, Tonga National, Youth Congress, Tuvalu Climate Action Network (TuCAN), Women4Oceans, WWF International, Bellona Foundation, Besteforeldrenes klimaaksjon, BirdLife Norway, ForUM, Framtiden i våre hender, Natur Og Ungdom, Naturvernforbundet, Sabima, Spire, World Saving Hustle, WWF Verdens naturfond
NAFO’s 45th Annual Meeting achieved progress in the protection of vulnerable marine ecosystems and in advancing their work on the ecosystem approach to fisheries to prevent ecosystem overfishing, including by taking first steps to incorporate climate change into fisheries management. NAFO also agreed to test a new precautionary approach framework on fisheries management that would in principle improve the sustainability of their managed fish stocks.