Canada Declares it will not Support Proposals to Mine the Deep Seabed until Robust Regulations are in Place

MiningWatch Canada

Ottawa, ON – Today Canada declared that it will not support permits to mine the deep seabed until rigorous and effective regulations are in place to provide “effective protection of the marine environment.” 

Meetings began in Jamaica today at the International Seabed Authority (ISA), the international body tasked with overseeing management of the deep seabed in international waters. A framework is currently being negotiated to advance regulations to mine the deep seabed — an industrial practice that has yet to start in an area that is the least understood ecosystem on earth.  

“After years of public pressure warning that deep seabed mining will very seriously and irreversibly harm one of the world’s most fragile ecosystems, today Canada has declared its support for a moratorium on deep seabed mining and has stated that it will not support proposals to mine the international deep seabed until rigorous regulations are in place,” says Catherine Coumans, MiningWatch Canada’s Asia-Pacific Coordinator. “However, the science is clear that destroying the very habitat for most marine life on the seabed will never be sustainable. Canada should follow Switzerland’s lead in ensuring its moratorium position is not contingent upon the adoption of regulations.”

Canadian companies are racing to be the first to mine the deep sea. Canada’s declaration that it “will not support the provisional approval of a plan of work” is important as Canada’s The Metals Company and its partner country Nauru have announced plans to apply for a mining permit this year. However, Canada will not be able to stop the granting of a permit on its own. Canada  will need at least two-thirds of the other countries of the ISA’s 36-member Council to also vote against granting a mining permit.  

“Canada must follow through with today’s commitment to marine protection by rejecting a request for a mining permit from The Metals Company and its partner Nauru and actively lobbying enough countries to join Canada to stop the permit from being granted,” continues Coumans. “While The Metals Company aggressively tells shareholders that deep seabed mining is a sure bet, even the company’s home country – Canada – has committed to not supporting an application from TMC. Shareholders should be paying close attention to this strong, growing global movement for a moratorium or ban on deep seabed mining.” 

Media contacts: 

Catherine Coumans, Asia-Pacific Program Coordinator, MiningWatch Canada, 613-256-8331, [email protected]