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Marine Science



Deep-sea mining in the spotlight on World Ocean Day. Environmental NGOs, the scientific community, the fishing industry and the UN Special Envoy for the Ocean agreed on the need for a moratorium on seabed mining.

This World Ocean Day gathered in Madrid’s Royal Botanical Garden representatives from government, environmental organisations, the scientific community and the fishing sector to focus on the urgent need to establish governance mechanisms for international waters and protect the seabed from the threat posed by deep-sea mining, issues that will be addressed at the UN Ocean Conference starting in Lisbon later this month.

During the event, several panellists called on the Spanish Vice-President and Minister for Ecological Transition to champion the case for an international moratorium on deep-sea mining, which could start as early as next year if urgent action is not taken to prevent it.

Sian Owen, director of the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition, stressed:

urgency for political courage and action to press pause on this destructive activity before it’s too late, to give time and space for the science, governance and social license issues to be resolved, and for technological development to deliver alternatives”. This assessment was echoed by Iván López, chairman of the EU Long Distance Fleet Advisory Council, who also called for a moratorium.

The United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Ocean, Peter Thomson, who also served as president of the Assembly of the International Seabed Authority, stated that:

not applying the precautionary principle is madness” and that “we must apply a moratorium during the United Nations Decade for Ocean Sciences in order to come to an understanding of the deep sea”.

The Spanish Vice-President and Minister for Ecological Transition, Teresa Ribera, announced that:

at the next meeting of the International Seabed Authority we must go further in protecting the seabed, preventing it from being exploited, worked on, explored, without sufficient guarantees”. Last September, Spain was one of the governments that supported an IUCN resolution calling for an international moratorium on deep-sea mining, committing itself to move towards its establishment, as the parliaments of Galicia and the Canary Islands have also requested through resolutions urging the government to take this step.