Seas At Risk urges the International Seabed Authority to stop granting licenses for deep sea exploration and exploitation until all alternatives have been investigated and stringent environmental framework conditions are put in place.

So far 26 exploration licenses have been granted by the International Seabed Authority, with more in the make. And while actual mining is not yet taking place, it is expected that the industry will have the technology ready to start mining within four years. The International Seabed Authority is developing a set of international regulations for deep sea exploitation. A working draft of the Regulations and Standard Contract Terms on Exploitation for Mineral Resources is under consultation and will be complemented later in the year with a draft environmental regulation.

In its response to the consultation, Seas At Risk points to the critical gaps in scientific knowledge and data (as the recent MIDAS conference showed), the governance problems within the International Seabed Authority (in terms of openness, participation, transparency and capacity), the risks for irreversible serious damage to the deep sea ecosystems and the need to complete a network of marine protected areas. This calls for a strong precautionary approach, and looking for more sustainable alternatives should be the priority. Curbing the demand for raw materials through better product design, sharing, re-use, repairing and recycling and development of new materials is key to the solution. First and foremost, the International Seabed Authority should take its core mandate, which is to protect the deep sea, at heart.

Seas At Risk’s submission to International Seabed Authority can be downloaded here. The consultation period has been extended till 25th November.

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