Collective Push in Canada for an International Moratorium on Deep Seabed Mining
OTTAWA—Oceans North, MiningWatch Canada, the Canadian Parks & Wilderness Society (CPAWS), Nature Canada, Northern Confluence, and West Coast Environmental Law launched a parliamentary petition on June 11, 2021, calling on the Government of Canada to support international calls for a moratorium on deep seabed mining (DSM).
DSM is an emerging industry that seeks to mine metals such as cobalt, manganese, nickel, and copper from the seafloor. Although no such mines currently exist, regulations being prepared by the International Seabed Authority (ISA) could soon open the door to massive destruction of deep seabed ecosystems in international waters.
Canada should not allow an industry in international waters, the common heritage of humankind, that it doesn’t allow in our domestic waters. Provisions in the Fisheries Act limit the amount of suspended solids industry can release into water with fish, which effectively protects our territorial waters from this unacceptable practice.
Allowing DSM would also be contrary to Canada’s international commitments. Canada is a member of the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy, a worldwide conservation initiative that has called for a moratorium on the granting of exploration licenses in areas beyond national jurisdiction and a halt to the development of the draft regulations, standards, and guidelines at the ISA. The panel’s 2020 report is definitive that DSM cannot be considered sustainable.
Organizational Statements Below:
Susanna Fuller, Vice-President of Operations and Projects at Oceans North
Canada has a responsibility to uphold internationally the values of good governance, environmental stewardship, and equitable sustainable development that it promotes at home. Our international commitments reflect the importance of protecting the ocean for future generations, which would be completely undermined by allowing deep seabed mining in areas beyond national jurisdiction.
Catherine Coumans, Co-manager and Asia-Pacific Program Coordinator at MiningWatch Canada
As awareness grows of the threat this new extractive industry poses to life in our oceans, the calls for a moratorium on DSM are expanding from scientists to the European Parliament to Pacific communities whose livelihoods and ways of life will be affected, and who are responding to this risk by calling for a ban on the practice in national and international waters.
Gauri Sreenivasan, Policy and Campaigns Director at Nature Canada
Scientists are increasingly raising the alarm about the high risk of biodiversity loss in the fragile deep-sea ecosystems being targeted for mining, ecosystems we have barely started to explore. Scientists also warn that the destruction of these habitats—which took millions of years to form—cannot be remediated, mitigated, or off-set. Ocean biodiversity is too valuable, for nature, climate and people’s well being, to take this risk.
Alex Barron, National Director Ocean Program at Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society
Deep-sea ecosystems are not only home to incredible and unique species, but the seabed itself is also an important carbon sink. We need to protect our deep-sea ecosystems and seabed rather than increasing exploitation through deep-sea mining. Canada has committed to ban mining from its MPAs which is a good start, but with potentially far reaching impacts we need an international moratorium on deep-sea mining.
Nikki Skuce, Director at Northern Confluence
We have risks and disasters with mining on land, with water contamination far too common. Do we really want to enable mining companies dumping heavily sedimented waste water in our oceans 24 hours a day seven days a week for years? A precautionary approach would put food security, fishing economies, and biodiversity ahead of underwater mineral and metal extraction. We need Canada to support this international moratorium.
For questions, contact:
Co-manager and Asia-Pacific Program Coordinator at MiningWatch Canada
Susanna Fuller, Vice-President, Operations and Projects at Oceans North
Nicole Zanesco, International Policy Adviser at Oceans North
For further information see:
- Blog Post by Oceans North
- Blog Post by MiningWatch Canada
- Joint letter from 19 Canadian organizations to six Government of Canada Ministries
- Pacific Blue Line – Call for a ban on DSM lead by Pacific organizations supported by global organizations
- European Parliament resolution of 9 June 2021 on the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030: Bringing nature back into our lives (2020/2273(INI))
- High Level Panel report – What Role for Ocean-Based Renewable Energy and Deep-Seabed Minerals in a Sustainable Future?
- High Level Panel report – Ocean Solutions That Benefit People, Nature and the Economy