As delegates gathered in Kingston Thursday (March 16) for the 28th Session of the International Seabed Authority (ISA), independent campaigning network Greenpeace International renewed its appeal urging governments to think about the planet and not to sanction deep-sea mining.
In a statement, Greenpeace said that the world was at a critical moment for the future of the oceans as deep-sea mining companies rush the start of what it slammed as a risky industry. The ISA session also comes less than two weeks after a Global Ocean Treaty was agreed upon at the United Nations.
“Which governments would want to undermine the achievement of this Treaty by giving a green light to deep sea mining so soon after this historic success in New York? We’ve come to Kingston to say loud and clear that deep-sea mining is not compatible with a sustainable and fair future,” said Sebastian Losada, senior oceans policy adviser for Greenpeace International.
“Science, businesses and Pacific campaigners have already said it’s not. The same states that completed negotiations to protect the oceans must now draw a line and ensure that the deep sea is protected from mining. They can’t allow this reckless industry to go ahead,” he added.
The ISA’s mandate is to preserve the international seabed and control all mineral-related activities. However, the deep-sea mining industry has forced governments’ hands, using an obscure and controversial legal loophole to set an ultimatum for governments. In 2021, the then president of Nauru Lionel Aingimea, together with The Metals Company’s subsidiary Nauru Ocean Resources, triggered the “two-year rule” that puts pressure on governments at the ISA to allow deep-sea mining to start by July 2023.
“The two-year-ultimatum puts the interests of the few over the many and would make it impossible for governments to fulfil their key obligation to protect the oceans. This makes it even more urgent to adopt a moratorium on deep-sea mining. Many governments have voiced unease at pressure to rush vital political negotiations over equity and ocean health. The future of half the surface of the planet has to be decided in the best interests of humanity – not the timeframe imposed by a company running out of cash,” Losada said.
Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise arrived in Kingston early Thursday morning.
Joining the crew and Greenpeace delegation are Pacific activists campaigning on deep sea mining who have not previously been given a platform at the ISA meeting to express their views, despite this being a decision that could shape their future.
These activists will participate as observers in the ISA meeting and will address governments directly.
“Our ancestors have taught us the value of being ‘Mana Tiaki’, guardians where we protect our natural resources for future generations. Back home in the Cook Islands, we are actively working with local communities to raise awareness about the environmental impacts of mining the seabed, whilst working towards a moratorium. To be here and voice our concerns as a collective indigenous delegation from the pacific is a well overdue opportunity the ISA has been missing over the duration of their meetings,” said Alanna Matamaru Smith from Te Ipukarea Society on board the Arctic Sunrise.
Greenpeace International again urged governments to push back on the timeline set by the controversial ultimatum in the next two weeks and ensure mining doesn’t go ahead in the next few months.
“Deep-sea mining will continue to pose a threat even after the two-year deadline, and countries must work for a moratorium on deep-sea mining, which could be agreed upon at the ISA Assembly made up of 167 states plus the European Union,” the organisation noted.
The next ISA Assembly meeting will take place in July 2023 in Kingston.