Call for freeze on deep-sea mining

Deep-sea mining. Credit: Nautilus Mining Inc

The Long Distance Fleet Advisory Council (LDAC) of the European Union has issued a call to freeze deep-sea mining in international waters. The moratorium was supported by Seas at Risk and the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition (DSCC).

The move highlights concerns put forward by scientists, the fishing industry and environmental organisations over the potentially severe impacts deep sea mining will have on the marine environment and biodiversity.

The EU member states have publicly released the advice provided by the Executive Committee of the LDAC on 28 May 2019.

Matthew Gianni, co-founder of the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition, said “fishing industry representatives and NGOs in Europe are jointly raising concern with EU member states and the international community over the prospect of deep sea mining and its likely impacts on fisheries and the marine environment”. He added, “Scientists have warned that biodiversity loss will be inevitable and likely permanent on human timescales if the International Seabed Authority begins issuing licenses to mine the deep ocean seabed for metals such as copper, nickel, cobalt and manganese.”

The recommendations put forward by the LDAC include the halting of deep seabed mining activities in the international areas of the ocean seabed under the jurisdiction of the International Seabed Authority until:

  • the risks to marine life have been fully assessed and understood
  • a clear case can be made that deep sea mining is necessary and not simply profitable for companies and countries wishing to mine resources
  • that the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals 2030 Agenda is recognised – this includes international commitments to conserve and sustainably use the oceans
  • strengthen resilience of marine ecosystems, and initiatives to transition to circular economies among others

Further, the LDAC called upon cooperation between the European Commission and member states to stop funding, facilitating or promoting the development of deep-sea mining technology and deep-sea mining itself.

Ann Dom, deputy director of Seas At Risk, said “We count on the EU member states to take to heart the call for a moratorium by the European Parliament and the fisheries sector, and to put it firmly on the agenda of the upcoming annual session of the International Seabed Authority.”