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Today, during a leadership forum at IMPAC5 in Vancouver, Canada called for no deep-sea mining to take place, if protection of the marine environment from harm cannot be ensured. The Deep Sea Conservation Coalition (DSCC) calls on the Canadian government to increase its ambition and call for a moratorium on the risky industry.

As marine conservation practitioners, local and Indigenous communities and world leaders gathered for the Fifth International Marine Protected Areas Congress (IMPAC5), the Canadian government made a new statement regarding the controversial industry. In the statement, the Canadian government laid out standards that they believe must be adhered to as momentum builds for a moratorium on the industry.

Would-be miners seek to strip mine the seabed for minerals without fully understanding the life that exists in the deep nor the critical services that the deep ocean provides, including carbon storage. An international body charged with regulating the deep-sea mining industry, the International Seabed Authority (ISA), will meet intensively this year to develop a regulatory framework that, if agreed and adopted, would greenlight the industry,and allow the largest deep-sea mining operation in history to take place in our ocean.

The statement released by Canada today stated that if deep-sea mining were to go ahead, regulations must “ensure that seabed activities do no harm to the marine environment and are carried out solely for the benefit of humankind as a whole.” The DSCC have been present throughout IMPAC5 in Vancouver.

“This stipulation would effectively require Canada to vote ‘no’ at upcoming ISA meetings on the developing regulations as well as any plans of work that would see commercial-scale deep-sea mining begin.”

DSCC Director, Sian Owen

As it stands, more than 700 scientists have warned that if deep-sea mining were to go ahead, it would cause irreversible damage to habitats, extinctions of species and would put essential ecosystem services at risk. Earlier in the week, hundreds of people took to the streets in Vancouver to protest against the industry, calling on Canada to support a moratorium.

image of impac5 no mining protest
Deep-sea mining protest in Vancouver. Image credit: Oceans North.

The new declaration also calls for deep-sea mining to be carried out ‘solely for the benefit of humankind as a whole.

Currently, any deep-sea mining would serve only to line the pockets of companies for the north, providing a net loss to humanity through irreversible damage to crucial ecosystems that we all rely on.”

DSCC Director, Sian Owen

Canada has repeatedly committed to protect the ocean and ensure responsible governance internationally at G7, the High Level Panel, the CBD Framework, and the BBNJ Treaty and has committed nationally to upholding the rights of Indigenous peoples. However as backlash surrounding the industry continues to build, a growing community of Indigenous peoples from across the world are calling for a stop. On Monday 6th February, The Deep Sea Conservation Coalition (DSCC) and WWF hosted an event at the conference to bring together voices from Indigenous Peoples and local communities across the Pacific to share why they are calling for a ban or a moratorium on any mining of the deep ocean for the foreseeable future.

 “The upcoming ISA meetings provide a critical window of opportunity for Canada to join a growing group of ocean leaders and put the brakes on deep-sea mining and stop a destructive industry before it even begins. Canada has made ambitious commitments this week on ocean conservation, this declaration needs to translate into action at the ISA and a call for a moratorium, an official, global pause.”

DSCC Deep-Sea Mining Campaign Lead, Sofia Tsenikli