Lisbon: As the UN Ocean Conference gets underway and the global attention turns towards the ocean, political resistance to the emerging deep-sea mining industry gains traction.
President of Palau, Surangel Whipps, joined the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition and WWF at an official conference side event in Lisbon, calling on behalf of his government for an immediate moratorium on deep-sea mining.
As the leader of the global call, the President launched the new Alliance of Countries Supporting a Deep-Sea Mining Moratorium. Oceanographer and marine biologist, Sylvia Earle, and Debbie Ngawera-Packer, Co-leader Te PAti MAori and Member of Parliament, Aotearoa/New Zealand, joined the President of Palau at the event to explore the wonders of the deep and the critical action needed to protect in the face of destructive mining.
President Whipps said: “We all have to make sacrifices and come together as nations to achieve the greater good for our planet and our people. We know that deep-sea mining compromises the integrity of our ocean habitat that supports marine biodiversity and contributes to mitigating the impacts of climate change.”
Sian Owen, Director of the Deep Sea Conservation, applauded Palau’s call, saying: “We welcome the courage and integrity of President Whipps’ leadership on this issue. Palau has taken a stand for global ocean and planetary health.
“We hope that other governments will join them in specific action toward their bold commitments to reversing the downward spiral of environmental degradation.”
The conference proceedings on Monday saw parliamentarians from across the globe gather to explore the risks associated with deep-sea mining. These included French MEP Marie Toussaint who launched the International Parliamentarians’ Call for a Moratorium on Deep-Sea Mining.
The declaration released warns of the risks deep-sea mining would pose if the industry were to go ahead, including to marine ecosystems and species, carbon storage, food security and the livelihoods of coastal communities.
The statement commits signatories to act at the national or regional level, in their respective Parliaments to make the call for a moratorium a reality.
It also calls for a reform of the body charged with regulating deep-sea mining, the International Seabed Authority (ISA), so that it becomes a transparent, accountable, effective and inclusive regulatory body committed to defending the deep.
Last week, Chile called for a 15-year moratorium on adopting regulations that would allow deep-sea mining in a letter submitted to the annual meeting of states parties to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea at UN headquarters in New York.
Chile cited concerns including the environmental damage deep-sea mining would cause and a lack of sufficient scientific data.
With climate change, bio-diversity loss and pollution exacting a devastating toll on the world’s ocean — critical to food security, economic growth and the environment — the 2022 UN Ocean Conference opened in Lisbon on Monday with a call for a new chapter of ocean action driven by science, technology and innovation.
In recognition of the critical work ahead at the ocean summit, Environmental Defense Fund, WWF and the Blue Food Assessment launched a video series to call on governments, civil society and the private sector to fully recognize the diversity of small-scale actors, the crucial role they play in global food security and the contribution they make to livelihoods and economies around the globe.
Portraits of Change is a video series featuring small-scale fishers and fishworkers on the front lines of climate change who contribute significantly to global food security, livelihoods, local economies and coastal resilience. The videos are individual accounts by community champions whose lives are dedicated to addressing the ocean, food and climate crises.
“Sadly, we have taken the ocean for granted, and today we face what I would call an ‘Ocean Emergency’,” United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told delegates at the opening of the conference. “We must turn the tide. A healthy and productive ocean is vital to our shared future.”