Oslo, Norway (October 2nd) – Today activists from around the world joined forces in a joint protest against Norway’s plans to open 281,000 square kilometers of its ocean – an area larger than the size of the UK – to deep seabed mining in the sensitive Arctic. The activists believe that this is in direct conflict with Norway’s role in the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy (Ocean Panel). They demand that Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre resigns as co-chair of the Ocean Panel if the Norwegian Parliament does not halt the opening process. Today, a letter with this demand was sent from over 30 organizations* and delivered at over 20 Norwegian embassies on all continents.
The deep sea harbours a vulnerable and largely unexplored nature and wildlife. Less than 1 per cent of the area that Norway plans to open for deep sea mining has been mapped by biologists. The Norwegian government knows virtually nothing about the ecosystems that are in danger of disappearing completely because of the new destructive industry.
The protest, which is happening on the day the Norwegian parliament opens for the fall session, is an expression of a strong and united opposition to deep sea mining, across continents and organisations. Norway’s plans to open its deep sea for mining will be discussed in parliament and a decision will be made in the near future.
The activists are not alone in their criticism. Scientists both in Norway and globally have warned against deep sea mining, and over 20 countries, including Canada, Chile, Fiji, France, Portugal, Palau, Spain, Germany, Sweden, Finland and New Zealand, are speaking out against it and calling for a ban or a pause. Multinational companies such as Google, Samsung, Volvo and BMW have pledged not to source any minerals from the seabed. Norway’s claims that the minerals are needed for the green transition is not correct, and has been called misleading by leading scientists.
Norway’s plan to start deep seabed mining in the Arctic contradicts all scientific advice from research institutions in Norway and abroad. This decision goes against the government’s own environmental agency, which states that the knowledge gaps are so large that the criteria for an impact assessment are not fulfilled and doesn’t adequately address potential transboundary impacts to other nations or on other industries like fisheries because of a serious lack of scientific data.
Local groups have organized protests outside Norwegian embassies in over 16 countries where they also deliver an open letter to the Norwegian Prime Minister with the same demand: Jonas Gahr Støre has to prove that Norway is a leading nation for a sustainable ocean, or resign from his position as the Co-Chair for the Ocean Panel. Activists from Australia to the US, from Mozambique to Brussels, have shown up to put pressure on Norway. They fear for the vulnerable Arctic nature, and that an opening decision in Norway’s can lead to deep sea mining in international waters – which covers almost 50% of the planet.
Quotes from the organisations behind the demand:
Global Policy Lead for WWFs No Deep Seabed Mining Initiative, Kaja Lønne Fjærtoft:
“It is not too late to live up to the responsibilities as co-chair of the Ocean Panel and to establish Norway as a leading country in the increasing opposition to deep-sea mining. We urge Norway to step back from the brink of greenlighting this destructive industry and to support a global moratorium on deep-sea mining.”
Global Campaign Lead for the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition, Sofia Tsenikli:
“By embarking on mining in the deep sea without sufficient knowledge, we risk destroying unique nature, eradicating vulnerable species and disrupting the world’s largest carbon sink. At a time when humanity is racing against the clock to tackle both the climate crisis and the biodiversity crisis, we should protect nature – not destroy it.”
Sustainable Ocean Alliance Deep Sea Mining Europe Lead & LookDown co-founder, Anne-Sophie Roux:
“Norway is already falling behind in the protection of the deep sea in international waters. Following the government’s recent announcement to mine the deep ocean in Norwegian waters, in the fragile and pristine Arctic Ocean, we urgently need a global and strong mobilization. We, as the international community, rely on the Arctic and the deep sea for the stability of our global climate. We can’t afford to lose them. Join us asking Norway to #StopDeepSeaMining.”
Gina Gylver, Chair of Young Friends of the Earth Norway (Natur og Ungdom):
“We are so grateful that activists across the world are joining forces to put pressure on the Norwegian government. Many think of Norway as a “green” nation, but the dangerously rapid opening process for deep sea mining with a catastrophic lack of knowledge, reveals what’s really going on. Our prime minister Støre, cannot say yes to deep sea mining and continue to be the leader of the International Ocean Panel. Our country has to prove for the world that we act on science, not prestige.”
Louisa Casson, senior campaigner for Greenpeace’s Stop Deep Sea Mining campaign:
“Norway opening for Deep Sea Mining while chairing the international Ocean panel, and committing to 100% sustainable use of its waters, is hypocrisy and risks destroying both ecosystems in the vulnerable Arctic and Norway’s reputation internationally. If Norway decides to proceed with their plans, they must give up their seat in the Ocean Panel to a state that delivers on ocean protection.”
Martin Webeler, Deep-Sea Mining Campaign Lead for the Environmental Justice Foundation:
“By opening its waters to deep-sea mining, Norway would be instrumental in pushing open the door to the global introduction of an industry that will cause unprecedented damage to our ocean. We call on Norway to abandon these plans in order to meet its obligations as a member of the Ocean Panel and a signatory to the High Seas Agreement.”
Notes to editors
Elena Solberg, Media Relations Manager, WWF-Norway, phone: +47 48204130. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Matthew Gianni, co-founder and policy advisor, Deep Sea Conservation Coalition +31646168899
Anne Sophie Roux, Deep Sea Mining Europe Lead & LookDown co-founder, +33 7 67 38 53 50
- The intensity and methods of deep seabed mining could destroy entire habitats, species and the services they provide. Many species living in the deep sea are found nowhere else; disturbances in just one mining site could wipe out entire species. The consequences could very well be irreversible for the ocean and humanity.
- Over 99 per cent of the area that Norway plans to open for deep sea mining have not been described by science. We therefore know little about the consequences mining (both exploration and exploitation) may have on wildlife and vulnerable ecosystems in the deep sea.
- More than 750 scientists have asked for a pause on the industry because there isn’t enough rigorous scientific information available concerning deep sea species and ecosystems.
- A total of 21 countries have to date joined in the call for a ban, precautionary pause or moratorium on deep seabed mining and a number of leading companies such as Google, Volkswagen Group and Phillips have already said they won’t accept deep-sea minerals in their supply chains.
- Norway could be the first country in the world to start deep sea mining .
- On 20 June 2023, the Norwegian government presented a white paper proposing to open for mining in the deep sea. The area is located on the western edge of the Norwegian continental shelf in the Arctic, near Svalbard. The Parliament will discuss and vote on the preposition during the autumn.
The organisations behind the letter to Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre: AbibiNsroma Foundation, The Blue Climate Initiative, Civil Society Forum of Tonga. Deep Sea Mining Campaign. Deutsche Stiftung Meeresschutz (DSM), Ecologistas en Acción. Environmental Justice Foundation, Greenpeace, Kiwis Against Seabed Mining (KASM), #LookDown, Oceans North, Sciaena, Seas At Risk, SeaLegacy, Sharkproject, Sustainable Ocean Alliance, Te Ipukarea Society, Tonga National, Youth Congress, Tuvalu Climate Action Network (TuCAN), Women4Oceans, WWF International, Bellona Foundation, Besteforeldrenes klimaaksjon, BirdLife Norway, ForUM, Framtiden i våre hender, Natur Og Ungdom, Naturvernforbundet, Sabima, Spire, World Saving Hustle, WWF Verdens naturfond