States attending the 27th meeting of the International Seabed Authority (ISA) should call for a moratorium on deep-sea mining and hit the brakes on the rush to adopt mining regulations.
The special meeting, held in Kingston, Jamaica, will run from Monday 21st March to April 1st and will see the ISA pushing for regulations that would enable the imminent start of exploitation in the deep ocean.
Environmentalists and recreational fishing groups today heralded the guilty verdict delivered to a Talley’s-owned bottom trawler, the Amaltal Apollo, and its skipper, for illegally bottom trawling on seamounts in international waters.
The Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for The Metals Company (TMC’s) deep-sea mining test by its Nauruan subsidiary, Nauru Ocean Resources Inc. (NORI), received over 600 comments across a range of critical issues. Government and non-government organisations declared it sub-standard and not fit for purpose as a risk management tool.
As world leaders gather in Brest, France for the One Ocean Summit to advance the critical action needed to protect the ocean, electric vehicle (EV) start-up, Rivian, pledges to keep the deep sea out of their vehicles.
The Amazon and Ford-backed EV start-up is the latest company to commit to safeguarding the health of the ocean, by keeping minerals strip-mined from the deep sea out of supply chains. Rivian joins BMW Group, Volvo Group, Volkswagen Group, Google, Scania, and others as pressure mounts to halt the emerging deep-sea mining industry.
The Deep Sea Conservation Coalition (DSCC), a coalition of over 90 NGOs including Greenpeace and WWF, as well as many other civil society groups are urging companies, including EV manufacturers, to commit to not using minerals sourced from the deep ocean due to the significant environmental and social risks posed by the potential exploitation of the deep seabed.
Scientists continue to warn that deep-sea mining would cause irreversible damage to fragile ecosystems that have taken millions of years to form, could cause species extinctions, and risks disturbing one of our planet’s largest carbon sinks.
The case for gouging minerals from the deep seabed grows weaker by the day, as battery technology advances at a rapid pace. A new generation of batteries that don’t use minerals such as cobalt, nickel, and manganese, continue to enter the market while plans and technologies to recycle the minerals needed for battery technology are gaining momentum.
The pledge from Rivian comes as the speculative deep-sea mining industry continues to garner negative media attention. The financial risks associated with the industry are coming to light, with shares of The Metals Company, falling by 90% since its public listing on NASDAQ earlier this year. The global chorus of voices calling for a moratorium on deep-sea mining continues to grow.
Interviews are available with the following experts:
DSCC Global Campaigner: Farah Obaidullah – firstname.lastname@example.org
DSCC Policy Adviser: Matthew Gianni – email@example.com
CIVIL SOCIETY CALLS ON INTERNATIONAL SEABED AUTHORITY TO PROTECT OCEAN HEALTH
For release 13.12.21
The International Seabed Authority (ISA) last week concluded their 26th Meeting of the Council in Kingston, Jamaica to debate a “roadmap” designed to open a whole new frontier of industrial resource extraction in the deep ocean by allowing deep-sea mining to begin within the next year and a half.
The meeting of the Council which ran from 6-10 December focused on a proposal by the Secretary General of the ISA to negotiate and adopt mining regulations by July 2023, to allow countries to apply for contracts to begin strip-mining the deep sea.
In scheduling the meeting last week, in spite of protests from a number of countries, the Secretary General of the ISA claimed that the ISA must adopt the regulations by July 2023 because the Pacific Island nation of Nauru earlier this year triggered a so-called ‘two year rule’ in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea which requires the ISA to do so. However, many of the member countries of the ISA Council, including the African Group in a submission earlier this year, have made it clear that other options are available to the ISA which may not in fact require adopting the mining regulations in the next 18 months.
The Deep Sea Conservation Coalition (DSCC) agrees and has called on the ISA to focus on safeguarding the health of the ocean through agreeing to a moratorium on deep-sea mining. The Coalition also highlighted that one benefit of a pause on deep-sea mining, would be to allow the ISA to focus on promoting deep-sea scientific research, to advance the protection of critical and fragile deep-sea habitats.
The DSCC’s Duncan Currie told the ISA Council “The DSCC is profoundly concerned at the direction this organisation is being asked to take and the road map is a map which would take it entirely in the wrong direction. The roadmap should include the necessity for a moratorium while these issues are debated and we have the necessary scientific knowledge.”
Scientists have warned that biodiversity loss in the deep ocean would be inevitable and irreversible if the ISA would permit deep-sea mining to occur.
Matthew Gianni, representing Earthworks, a member of the DSCC, at the ISA meeting called on member countries to live up to their commitments through the Leader’s Pledge for Nature to halt biodiversity loss and not allow deep-sea mining to take place. He said “governments need to put the brakes on these negotiations and rethink what their predecessors believed was a good idea during the Law of the Sea negotiations over 40 years ago. A moratorium is needed to focus on a fundamental reform of the ISA and the international legal regime for mining the deep sea as well as ensure that deep-sea mining does not do damage to the marine environment.
Guam last week called on the ISA to support a moratorium on deep-sea mining in order to protect ocean ecosystems from environmental harm and to ensure health of Guam’s people, citing the impacts associated with climate change, facing the Pacific Island Nation, and underscoring the need not to add additional stressors to ocean health. This comes on the heels of similar resolutions recently adopted by the regional legislatures of Galicia and the Canary Islands in Spain.
This week, Dr Sandor Mulsow, former Head of Office of Environmental Management and Mineral Resources at the ISA warned that “the way ISA is working at the moment, it is not fit to regulate any activity in the oceans” urging countries instead to support a moratorium until there is more scientific certainty surrounding the impacts of deep-sea mining.
The clock is ticking on deep-sea mining as would-be miner Nauru Offshore Resources Inc (NORI), a subsidiary of The Metals Company (TMC), triggered the ‘two-year rule’ earlier this year. However, momentum for a moratorium continues to grow; with 622 scientists along with government ministries and agencies from 37 IUCN member countries calling for a moratorium on deep-sea mining. Leading companies including Volkswagen, BMW Group, Volvo Group, Google, Samsung SDI, Scania, Philips, Patagonia, and banks such as Triodos Bank, have all called for a moratorium on deep-sea mining and pledged to keep deep-sea minerals from their supply chains into the risks to biodiversity are better understood. Fishing industry associations across Europe have also called for a moratorium.
The ISA’s Assembly meeting opened today (13th December) and will run until the 15th December.
The International Seabed Authority (ISA) meeting starting in Kingston today (December 6th) should focus on agreeing to a moratorium on deep-sea mining, the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition (DSCC) has said,
The IUCN World Conservation Congress in September 2021 adopted, with overwhelming support from civil society organizations and government agencies, Resolution 069 on the protection of deep-ocean ecosystems and biodiversity through a moratorium on deep-sea mining, including on exploitation regulations by the ISA and reform of the ISA.
Volkswagen Group, Triodos Bank, Scania, and Patagonia today joined growing calls for a moratorium on the emerging deep-sea mining industry.
The world’s second-biggest car manufacturer, a leading ethical bank, a major commercial vehicle manufacturer, and sustainable outdoor clothing company have joined other major companies BMW Group, Volvo Group, Samsung SDI, Google, and Philips in pledging to keep minerals sourced from the deep sea out of their products.
Deep-sea mining is an emerging, extractive industry that could threaten the health of the ocean in as little as two years. Prospective mining companies seek to strip-mine the deep-seabed, sucking up coal-sized rocks, known as polymetallic nodules for use in electric vehicle batteries, pumping sediment and toxic metals back into the ocean. Not only would the nascent industry directly destroy ecosystems and species that are only just being discovered, but it could also negatively impact fisheries, which communities across the world depend on.
The Annual Meeting of the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO) opens today. The Deep Sea Conservation is calling on the member countries of NAFO to agree to close seamounts and all areas identified by the Scientific Council of NAFO such as deepwater coral and sponge ecosystems to bottom trawling.