Brussels, 7 April 2024 

Seas At Risk is today [7 April], on Deep Day, proud to announce the release of our new report “The Changing Seascape of Deep-Sea Mining in Europe“. This comprehensive study offers crucial insights into the EU’s and 22 European countries’ involvement in and stance on this emerging industry which is riddled with controversies.  

The report unveils that Europe’s stance on deep-sea mining has shifted significantly from advocating for exploitation to supporting a precautionary approach. Now, eleven European countries and the EU align with the growing scientific consensus on the negative impacts of deep-sea mining, thanks to civil society’s persistent opposition, businesses’ concerns and growing scientific warnings. 

The report comes at a time when negotiations on a mining code at the International Seabed Authority (ISA) – the United Nations-affiliated body that regulated the seabed in the high seas – are being rushed ahead in order to allow commercial deep-sea mining to start as early as in 2025. In contrast, 25 countries globally are supporting a precautionary pause, ban or moratorium on deep-sea mining, citing a lack of sufficient scientific understanding of the negative impacts and effects of this emerging activity on the marine environment. 

Simon Holmström, Deep-Sea Mining Policy Officer at Seas At Risk, said: 

“More countries have to step forward to stop this activity before it starts, given the irreparable impact it would cause in terms of biodiversity loss and disruption of the ocean’s carbon storage functions. In the face of the rising threat of the deep sea being transformed into a new extractive frontier and geopolitical battleground, Europe must step up to protect the ocean – on which we all depend – from irreversible environmental harm.” 

The ISA Assembly meeting in July-August this year will be seminal, as the ISA is set to discuss a General Policy on the protection of the marine environment, which could eventually allow for a moratorium to be enforced in international waters.  

The report also comes at a critical time of change with a new term for EU institutions. To that end, the report outlines a pathway for European policy-makers to take ambitious measures to defend the deep sea from irreversible environmental harm. The report recommendations include a ban on deep-sea mining in European waters and an embargo on seabed minerals, considering Norway’s interest in providing Europe with seabed minerals from the Arctic. 


This press release is also available in Portuguese and Spanish.