Ireland Calls for a Precautionary Pause of Deep-Sea Mining on the International Seabed
The Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Micheál Martin T.D., Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien T.D., and Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan T.D., have welcomed today’s decision by Government for Ireland to join calls for a “precautionary pause” of deep-sea mining on the international seabed.
A precautionary pause envisages no deep-sea mining taking place until such time as a robust regulatory framework is in place to protect the marine environment and the scientific knowledge base is sufficient to allow for informed decision-making.
The 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea established the International Seabed Authority (ISA) to regulate the exploration and exploitation of mineral resources of the international seabed, which falls outside any national jurisdiction. To date the ISA has only authorized exploration activities but there have been recent efforts by some states and mining companies to accelerate moves towards an exploitation phase, notwithstanding the fact that negotiations on a mining code, including environmental regulations, have yet to be concluded, and significant scientific knowledge gaps persist.
Welcoming the decision by Government, the Tánaiste, said: “Ireland today joins a growing chorus of countries, scientists, civil society organizations and private companies calling for a precautionary pause of deep-sea mining. The international community has a responsibility to protect the marine environment, which is under greater pressure than ever.”
Minister O’Brien, said: “The recently agreed Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, as well as the UN Agreement on Marine Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ), were major steps forward for international ocean governance. It is important that we focus on delivering the ambitious objectives of those frameworks and build on the progress already made in protecting our marine environment.”
Minister of State Noonan, commented: “There remain major scientific knowledge gaps on deep-sea ecosystems and the potential impacts of deep-sea mining. The precautionary principle and the best available science must be at the heart of the governance of the international seabed.”