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Oslo, Norway, January 9th – International activists and environmental organisations gathered outside the Norwegian Parliament on Tuesday as the vote to approve the opening for deep sea mining was passed. Against massive criticism from scientists, fishery organisations and the international community, Norway is officially moving forward with the planned opening of Arctic waters to a very controversial mining industry.

– It is devastating to see the Norwegian state putting the amazing ecosystems of the sea at risk. This area is one of the last safe havens for Arctic marine life. We will do what we can to stop this destructive industry before it starts, said Amanda Louise Helle, Greenpeace activist.

– The deep sea is the world’s largest carbon reservoir and our last untouched wilderness, with unique wildlife and important habitats that do not exist anywhere else on Earth. The parliament’s decision to move forward with seabed mining against all expert advice, with an impact assessment that has been widely criticised, is a catastrophe for the ocean, and leaves a big stain on Norway’s reputation as a responsible ocean nation, said Kaja Lønne Fjærtoft, Global Policy Lead for WWF’s No Deep Seabed Mining Initiative.

Norway’s plans for deep sea mining have been subject to strong international criticism. The EU Commission has expressed strong concern about the environmental impact of the plans. 119 European parliamentarians have written an open letter to their Norwegian Parliament, asking them to vote against deep sea mining, and more than 800 ocean scientists have called for a pause on deep sea mining globally.

The global civic movement Avaaz is another part of the international criticism of Norway’s decision to open for deep sea mining. In just six weeks, Avaaz gathered over 500 000 signatures from across the world, calling on Norwegian lawmakers to say “NO” to all deep sea mining. The signatures were handed over to Marianne Sivertsen Næss (Labour Party) outside of parliament after today’s vote.

– This fight isn’t over: half a million people across the globe don’t want MPs to fail our children and grandchildren by allowing machines to scrape and suck up our ocean floors and create devastation among the most fragile and unknown ecosystems of the world. With more moments on the horizon, and a growing movement to stop deep-sea mining, MPs in Norway and across the world should know that the eyes of the world are watching, said Antonia Staats, Campaign Director at Avaaz.

The Norwegian government proposes to open an area the size of Ecuador for exploration of deep sea minerals. The area is situated in the Arctic, between Svalbard, Greenland, Iceland and Jan Mayen Island. This means that deep sea mining will happen further north and much further from land than Norway’s controversial oil and gas exploration and extraction.

The proposal has come under strong scrutiny from the scientific community in Norway, as the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) was inadequate. During the public consultation, the Norwegian Environmental Agency, the state institution responsible for environmental assessments, stated that the EIA failed to meet the legal criteria for such assessments. The Norwegian government’s argument that these minerals are needed for the green transition has also been called misleading by top scientists in the European Academies Science Advisory Council.

– How will the environmental impact be monitored? How will we ensure that unknown species won’t face extinction? How will it affect the fisheries of both Norway and other countries? How will it affect the vulnerable ecosystems in the Arctic – which already is under high pressure due to climate change? As long as the Norwegian government has no real answers to these questions it is absurd to greenlight a new destructive industry, said Camille Etienne, French climate & social justice activist.

– For too long, we have treated the ocean as an endless dumping ground for human waste and taken life under water for granted. It is deeply worrying that Norway wants to bring yet another extractive industry into one of the most vulnerable ecosystems on earth. The only silver lining of today is that the first extraction licenses must be passed through parliament. The fight for the oceans continues, said Anne-Sophie Roux, Deep Sea Mining Europe Lead at Sustainable Ocean Alliance.

– Norway’s decision to greenlight deep-sea mining exploration in the extremely fragile Arctic exposes Norway’s disregard for its international climate and nature commitments. Deep-sea mining has no place in a sustainable future for people and the planet. To date, 24 countries have already called for a moratorium or pause on this destructive industry in international waters. For the sake of current and future generations, we urge Norway to abandon its plans to mine and instead join the growing group of governments that are saying no to deep-sea mining, said Sofia Tsenikli, Global Deep Sea Mining Campaign Lead at the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition.

ENDS

Pictures can be accessed here.

Contact: 

Juni Haugan Holden, communications officer Greenpeace Norway. +47 974 84 814, juni.haugan.holden@greenpeace.org

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