26 October 2022
From Lisbon to Kingston, France must move from words to action!
26 October 2022
Joint NGO statement – Paris, 26 October 2022
NGOs call upon the French government to “put a real stop to deep sea mining” and materialize President Macron’s declaration in Lisbon.
On the 30th of June 2022, at the United Nations Ocean Conference, Emmanuel Macron declared: “I think we need to develop a legal framework to stop deep-sea mining and not allow new activities that would endanger ocean ecosystems.” A few days away from the Council Meetings of the International Seabed Authority (ISA) in Kingston, Jamaica, it is time for the French government to transform this declaration on the international stage into action and to do everything in its power to ensure that the industrial exploitation of the deep seabed cannot begin as early as July 2023. There is an urgent need for action and for the government to firmly and clearly position itself regarding its commitment to oppose the exploitation of the deep sea.
In June 2021, the Canadian mining company The Metals Company (TMC) and the Island State Nauru launched a two year countdown for the ISA to finalize its rules, regulations and procedures before opening the doors to the issuance of mining licenses to exploit the deep seabed. Only 9 months remain before this deadline. Since then, the ISA Council has sped up its working schedule in order to conclude these exploitation regulations before July 2023. Negotiations on the reglementation of future deep seabed mining licenses are ongoing and will extend from the 31st October to the 11th November, during the ISA Council Meetings in Kingston. The urgency of the situation was also reinforced by the issuance last September of a “test” mining license, authorizing TMC to extract 3,600 tons of metals in the Clarion Clipperton zone, in the heart of the Pacific Ocean. At present, its vessel, the Hidden Gem, is conducting test mining operations in this zone.
France will be co-organizing the next United Nations Ocean Conference, which will take place in 2025. In this perspective, it has to be at the forefront of ocean and marine ecosystems protection. During the ISA Council Meetings, we expect France to give political expression to the Lisbon Declaration by adopting clear and coherent positions.
We ask of the government to:
- Promote and defend at the ISA a moratorium on deep seabed mining for a minimum of 10 years until it has been demonstrated, through independent scientific studies, that this extractive activity does not cause any disturbance to marine ecosystems or any loss of marine biodiversity.
- Vote against the adoption by the ISA of the mining code in July 2023. This regulatory framework will give the green light to deep sea mining and there are still far too many scientific uncertainties about the deep ocean and associated risks. The adoption of this regulatory framework requires a consensus of the 36 members States of the ISA Council.
- Initiate or support preemptive steps to prevent the approval of provisional mining contracts at the ISA (work plans/issuance of contracts), under the two-year rule. Even in the absence of a regulatory framework, provisional contracts could be submitted from July 2023. The ISA Council will have to take a position on these requests.
- Launch a review and reform process of the ISA to reform its structure and operation in order to ensure transparent, accountable, inclusive and environmentally sound decision-making and regulation.
- Adopt a ban on seabed mining in waters under its national jurisdiction.
This call to support a moratorium on deep seabed mining and the following points are the subject of a draft Motion for Resolution in the National Assembly, announced today. The Motion for Resolution, submitted by Nicolas Thierry (Ecologiste – NUPES) and co-signed by Sabrina Sebaihi (Ecologiste – NUPES), Jimmy Pahun (Démocrate – MoDem et Indépendants), Alma Dufour (La France Insoumise – NUPES), Sébastien Jumel (Gauche Démocrate et républicaine – NUPES), Stéphane Delaurette (Socialistes et apparentés – NUPES), Michel Castellani (Libertés, Indépendants, Outre-mer et Territoires), Sophie Panonacle (Renaissance), Moetai Brotherson (Gauche démocrate et républicaine – NUPES), Hubert Wulfranc (Gauche démocrate et républicaine – NUPES), Anne Stambach Terrenoir (La France Insoumise – NUPES), Sandrine Le Feur (Renaissance), Eléonore Caroit (Renaissance), Jean-Félix Acquaviva (Libertés, Indépendants, Outre-mer et Territoires), Iñaki Echaniz (Socialistes et apparentés – NUPES), Antoine Vermorel (LR), call upon the government to implement a moratorium on deep seabed mining.
We call upon France to join the growing movement against the worrying possibility of industrial-scale exploitation of the deep seabed and to have the courage to turn the President’s declaration into concrete political action. Numerous institutions and organizations such as the European Parliament, the European Commission, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and a coalition of several hundred Parliamentarians from around the world, as well as the scientific community and environmental NGOs, among others, are calling for a moratorium, or “precautionary pause”, on the industrial exploitation of the deep sea. They were joined by the fishing industry represented in the EU Advisory Councils for distant water fisheries, for pelagic stocks and for southern western waters, and by technology and automotive companies such as Google, BMW, Renault, Volvo, Philips, Samsung.
During the 2022 United Nations Ocean Conference in Lisbon, the President of the Republic of Palaos launched an Alliance of States calling for a moratorium on deep seabed mining. Fidji, Samoa and the Federated States of Micronesia have since joined the Alliance.
Last June, Chile requested a 15-year precautionary pause on the adoption of regulations allowing deep sea mining.
At recent ISA meetings, a growing number of countries including Costa Rica, South Africa, and Spain, among others, have called for more time to allow for science-informed decision-making.
We therefore expect the Ministry of Ecological Transition and Territorial Cohesion, the Secretary of State for the Sea, the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs, the Secretary General for the Sea, the Ambassador for the Poles and Maritime Issues, as well as the relevant departments, to take ownership of the ambition of the Lisbon Declaration and to seize the opportunity for France to be a major player in the protection of the oceans. The ISA Council Meetings that begin next Monday will allow us to judge this.
Alternatiba, Amis de la Terre France, Bloom, Blue Climate Initiative, Deep Sea Conservation Coalition, Fondation Tara Océan, Greenpeace France, OceanCare, On Est Prêt, Seas at Risk, Sea Shepherd France, Sustainable Ocean Alliance France.
Photo : Julia Joppien via Unsplash