11 Nov 2022

Pacific Blue Line hopes more nations follow France's stance on deep sea mining

3:26 pm on 11 November 2022

The Pacific Blue Line collective is hoping more nations will follow France's stance on deep sea mining.

French President Emmanuel Macron announced this week at COP27 that he supports a ban on deep sea mining (DSM), a firm stance against deep sea mining after he called for caution at the UN Ocean Conference in Lisbon in June this year.

Joey Tau of PANG (L) with members of Greenpeace International and Pacific Blue Line

PANG's deputy coordinator Joey Tau Photo: International Seabed Authority

Delegates of the International Seabed Authority or ISA have been meeting in Jamaica to discuss deep-sea mining regulations.

The ISA, with 167 member states as well as the European Union, is the authority mandated by the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea to organise, regulate and control all mineral-related activities on the international seabed.

The Pacific Network on Globalisation, or PANG, is part of the Pacific Blue Line, a regional collective of Pacific non-government organisations and churches who are also at the meeting.

They have been campaigning against deep sea mining since 2012. PANG's deputy coordinator Joey Tau is at the meeting in Jamaica.

Dr Raijeli Taga of Fiji

Fiji's Dr Raijeli Taga at the ISA meeting in Jamaica Photo: International Seabed Authority

Tau said some ISA members states recognise more research is needed into the impacts of deep sea mining.

"There is a need for serious consideration if its [ISA] member states like France, like Fiji and the alliance of countries supporting a moratorium, what Germany and New Zealand recently have recently called for.

I think we need to really halt this process, and there's still a lot we need to know about the deep sea, and how it will impact not only the marine eco-systems but people who depend heavily on it," he said.

Tau said the Pacific Blue Line collective welcomes the call by France for a ban on deep sea mining.

"The health of our oceans is at a critical stage because its declining due to human activities. Our ocean plays a vital role in terms of regulating the climate, so those are some of the positions that have informed Pacific groups, and this is why we have taken a call for a ban.

Clement Yow Mulalap of FSM

Clement Yow Mulalap of FSM meeting in Jamaica Photo: International Seabed Authority

Divide within Pacific on DSM

In June 2021 Nauru triggered a legal loophole in the international seabed legislation effectively fast-tracking the pathway to mining the seafloor.

As well as Nauru another Pacific country looking at sponsoring deep sea mining activities is Tonga.

And in March, the Cook Islands approved seabed mineral exploration licences.

The rush to approve test mining and applications for scope of work should not be considered by the ISA at this stage, the priority should instead be to enhance the other mandates of ISA's which is to preserve, protect and ensure the principles of intergenerational equity and do no harm to the common heritage of mankind," Tau said.