Spain – Key Statements

Date: 10 November 2022

March 2024


  • Spain believes cooperation between FAO and the ISA is good news for the environment, and for the protection of the marine environment in ABNJ. States this collaboration should contribute to protecting the health of our oceans. 
  • Spain emphasized that cooperation and dialogue between the ISA and OSPAR are crucial for the effective management of marine resources. Both organizations have complementary competencies. 
  • The delegation stressed the need for a sense of responsibility and common commitment to protect the seas and oceans and urged both parties to continue working together to find solutions and ensure the sustainable management of marine resources.


  • Spain believes that test mining will allow States to know the different kinds of operations being carried out by mining contractors, so we can figure out what damage to expect and mitigation needed through appropriate conservation mechanisms. 
  • Spain proposes to protect intangible cultural heritage through environmental zones, with input from Indigenous communities.


  • Spain expressed that REMPs need to exist for a plan of work to be approved. 


  • Spain emphaizes the importance of a rigorous compliance and enforcement mechanism for marine environmental protection. 
  • The delegation stressed the importance of a fully operational inspection and compliance mechanism
  • The delegation noted that the freedom of the high seas is not absolute and is supportive of zones of security around vessels when discussing the Greenpeace protest in November 2023
  • Spain expressed that given that the matter is controversial and leads to legal uncertainty, Spain is under the opinion that the Council consider the possibility of asking the LTC to evaluate the classification of the ships carrying our activities in the area and consider them as facilities to afford them zones of safety.


  • Spain supports public consultation in general and expressed that the public can provide comments.


  • Spain emphasized the need to include environmental externalities in the payment regime, citing Germany’s efforts to quantify environmental costs. 


  • The Spanish delegation had several concerns with the consolidated text:
    • Not consensus-based
    • Hard to see what amendments have been included and not included
    • Modalities should be coherent 
    • Text should not violate existing framework 
  • Spain joins other delegations who have supported informal-informals to be open for interested parties

November 2023


  • Spain noted that the plan of work cannot be considered by the Legal and Technical Commission unless a regional environmental management plan has been approved by the Council.


  • Spain is in favor of a Precautionary Pause. We remind that it is absolutely necessary that the ICE mechanism be operational when we approve the first commercial Plan of Work per Para 4 Art 163 of the Convention. (Control necessary to ensure provisions fully respected)

July 2023


  • Spain reiterated their position on a precautionary pause on deep-sea mining and called for progress in marine scientific investigation in order to better understand the ecosystems of the depths of the ocean and their biodiversity. 


  • In favor of transparency, Spain supports the inclusion of agenda item establishing a general policy by the Assembly related to the consultation of the marine environment under the two year rule, proposed by Chile, Costa Rica, France, Palau, and Vanuatu. 


  • Spain urges the Commission to continue to improve transparency and the possibility to hold public meetings 


  • The Spanish delegation has maintained a firm position: exploitation activities of a commercial nature cannot begin until the Council has approved and applied regulations, as per the Convention and the 1994 Agreement.
  • To this end, in the context of the debates in the interpretation of the two year rule Spain has upheld the application for a precautionary pause allowing us to detail the regulations and environmental principles necessary to ensure the protection of the environment.


  • Spain supports what was said by Costa Rica and would like time dedicated to the ISA commissioned Value of Ecosystem Services and Natural Capital in the Area at the next session.

March 2023


  • The LTC has within its powers to hold open discussions. The LTC should hold open sessions in 2023 and 2024 on issues relating to biodiversity in the Area. The Assembly encouraged LTC to hold more public sessions, but decided to hold usual practice.


  • Spain stated that the primary responsibility of Council is to advance rules, regulations and procedures – without the two year rule obliging us to adopt less then adequate rules, regulations and procedures.
  • The delegation stated that they respect the multilateral framework and that the two-year rule should be applied together with UNCLOS
  • Spain supported the need for the application of the precautionary approach which is implicit in Art 145 – which many delegations have already said
  • The delegation agreed with Canada’s proposal – any plan of work should be assessed by the Council without a automatic need to provisionally approve it -“we also believe we should provide directives to the LTC”
  • Reiterated support for a precautionary pause -and to slow down the transition to exploitation until the draft regulations are established with thresholds.


  • Spain supports a precautionary pause. This precaution is for many reasons, but the reason on which we insist the most is the environmental issue. Until we can guarantee the safety of the marine environment and there is sufficient environmental guarantees, we need to slow down, we need to take a pause.


  • Warned that deep-sea mining is “a high risk activity which can affect the marine and coastal environment”
  • Stated that “public participation is vital -the public should have the right to denounce damage done in the Area – it is the common heritage of humankind”


  • Called to included cumulative effects to be included.
  • Called for regulations to reference the recently approved ABNJ agreement


  • Called for prevention measures to be taken to protect marine environment from possible pollution. The delegation highlighted that commercial mining operations will last for a long time and called for references to marine litter and underwater noise.  

October/November 2022


  • We cannot begin exploitation until there are adequate regulations that guarantee the protection of the marine environment in accordance with the precautionary principle. 


  • Justified the inclusion of the principle of intergenerational equity. The idea is to introduce the concept of equity between the current and future generations which is implicit in the concept of humanity.  


  • Spain stated that “The two-year rule does not matter if we do not have adequate environmental regulations in place.”
  • The delegation reiterated calls for a precautionary pause.


  • Spain stated “At this time, we’re calling for a precautionary pause. It could be a conditional pause, but the principle is the same.”

July/August 2022


  • “We have said that the matter of the 2 year rule is concerning for us. That is because it is a Damocles sword that is hanging over us. The time has come for us to decide something. There are legal arguments pro and anti this proposal.It would be very sad if the LTC was obliged to recommend the approval of a plan of work when provisions are not finalized. However there are other provisions for example Art 15 which allow interested states to express their interest in progressing to an exploitation phase.
  • In my view, there are too many legal uncertainties. Therefore, I support what was said by the delegations who took the floor before me. Perhaps it would not be inappropriate to resort to the ITLOS and ask for an advisory opinion, an advisory opinion that would not be made immediately it would be issued when plans have been discussed because general countries aren’t ready to present exploit exploitation plans and so it could be referred to ITLOS when necessary. So we would reiterate the need to find a consensus based solution
  • Here we are dealing with a common good. I’m a diplomat and there are many diplomats here and it’s important that the spirit that we engage in these discussions is to try and find a compromise solution and compromise between the authority, the interested state, other states represented. 
  • So perhaps as those who have spoken before me, we can agree on a pause because article 15 clearly says that the council, and speaking of paragraph C, must ‘consider’ 
  • But ‘consider’ does not mean that the council is obliged to approve. On the other hand, if provisional approval is granted, well, provisional is the key word provisional until there are adequate regulations governing a mining code. So, approval would be definitive from that point on, but provisional would not necessarily mean approval to exploit.”


  • Supported the inclusion of Chile’s proposed agenda item on the two year rule stating that “It seems to me that it is always good to speak as this strengthens transparency and increases visibility. The goal isn’t to reach position, but to exchange opinions.”


  • Supported the inclusion of Chile’s proposed agenda item on the two year rule stating that “It seems to me that it is always good to speak as this strengthens transparency and increases visibility. The goal isn’t to reach position, but to exchange opinions.”


  • Concerned that some contractors did not undertake environmental studies last year, in spite of the fact that ecosystem studies are improving – this continues to be a point to be monitored. Contractors should rigorously fulfill obligations on enviro matters. Spain added that supervisory and control functions are of utmost importance in environmental matters and the highest level of fulfillment is needed in their regard.


  • Spain requested that noise and litter be included in regulations, which were “particularly important for the fishing sector.”
  • Called for Auditors to be independent so that assessment is rigorous and useful.


  • On financial matters
    • Spain called for more time to assess reports
    • The delegates agreed with recommendations to use UN Court for Auditors as it exists for these purposes and would permit standardisation with other UN Agencies
    • Spain supported Costa Rica on the need to have a study on environmental costs and its relationship to the budget stating that “This was reiterated in March and earlier this week – several delegations have reaffirmed that we need to internalise costs so we need to know what they are.”
  • On environmental matters, the delegation commented that
    • “Firstly, the protection and preservation of the marine environment is a priority for many delegations present here and for my delegation, which has been expressed on various occasions within the organs of the principal organs of the authority, the Assembly and the Council. This is a reflection of the awareness on environmental matters that exists nationally and internationally and we cannot ignore that.We have the obligation to effectively protect the marine environment within the legal framework of the convention and the 1994 agreement.”
    • “Against that backdrop, we support what has been said by France and also the statements made by Chile and other delegations. 
    • That the famous two year clause does not oblige us to move to the exploitation phase if the environmental measures are not adequate. 
    • And if only economic or market based elements are taken care of Spain agrees with our precautionary approach the precautionary principle gives us the opportunity to anticipate negative impacts on the environment and there are consequences such as the loss of biodiversity.
    • They added that “seabed mining should not take place until there is an adequate legal framework that ensures impacts are minimised before contractors undertake exploitation, as we have said on previous occasions, exploitation rules need more legal strength and the strongest possible environmental guarantees.”
    • The delegation also commented that “If polluters are not accountable, the public has to pay the cost, and this is why we have the public interest referenced and justifies this inclusion of public interest in our view.”


  • he Spanish delegation referred to the UN Ocean Conference, stating that “…many voices were raised requesting that, due to the lack of scientific certainty of deep-sea mining effects on environment and need to protect biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction, we slow down the move toward exploitation of seabed mineral resources.”
  • They commented that they are in “agreement with this approach and support countries that share this concern and support protection of marine environments”. They added that Spain “have expressed previously that DSM shouldn’t begin until a regulatory framework that guarantees we will minimize effects before the contracts start running” and finished by stating that “my delegation is fully committed to developing regulations that guarantee effective protection of the environment in accordance with precautionary principle”.
  • However the delegation committed to developing ‘strong’ regulations. This is concerning as no matter how stringent regulations are, they would open the floodgates gates to destructive deep-sea mining

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