In a sign that momentum is continuing to build against deep-sea mining, on 21 February the Spanish parliament adopted a resolution calling for a precautionary pause of seabed mining in international waters and asked the Spanish government to look into banning it from its own national waters. 

Spain’s position against deep-sea mining comes exactly one month after an absolute majority of the French parliament voted in favour of banning deep-sea mining in its waters and called on the French government to block the adoption of any deep-sea mining regulations by the International Seabed Authority. 

The move comes as good news just as the fifth round of UN Ocean Treaty negotiations begins in New York, with a growing number of countries demanding a ban on deep-sea mining before it causes irreparable damage: opponents to this harmful activity include France, Spain and Germany in Europe, in addition to Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Fiji, Micronesia, New Zealand, Palau, Panama and Samoa. 

The stance adopted by Germany and Spain is aligned with that of the European Commission, which in June 2022 published the EU agenda on International Ocean Governance, announcing its intention to “prohibit deep-sea mining until scientific gaps are properly filled, no harmful effects arise from mining and the marine environment is effectively protected”. This brought the Commission in line with the European Parliament, which also called for a moratorium on deep-sea mining in 2021 and 2022 resolutions. 

The Spanish resolution, initially drafted by Spanish civil society organisations (CSOs) including Seas At Risk member Ecologistas en Acción, also calls for the reform of the International Seabed Authority to allow for greater transparency and increased participation of civil society, and asks the Spanish government to allow the participation of environmental CSO representatives in its national delegations in the meantime. 

Prior to this week’s resolution, several regional parliaments in Spain had already adopted similar agreements calling on the government to support a moratorium on deep-sea mining. This includes resolutions by the parliaments of Galicia and the Canary Islands, recognising the threat posed by the possibility of seabed mining happening in Spanish waters.