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ISA challenged with growing calls for caution and transparency


16th November, 2022

The 27th Session of the International Seabed Authority (ISA) concluded last Friday, with member States expressing concern that deep sea mining should not commence in absence of rules and regulations that will guarantee the protection of marine environment and ecosystems.

Despite reservations by some ISA member states on France’s call for a ban on deep sea mining at COP27, a good number of State parties acknowledged President Macron’s call, stressing that deep sea mining cannot take place unless there is assurance of no harm and the protection of the marine environment and ecosystems.

Joey Tau from the Pacific Network on Globalisation (PANG) who attended the ISA meeting said there is a growing political momentum that is starting to acknowledge the urgency to protect the ocean, and the ISA must consider the calls for precautionary pause, a moratorium or even a global ban.

ISA Council meeting in session - Source PANG

“The UNCLOS was established at a time when developing and small island states were transitioning into statehood, many referred to seabed minerals as a means of prospering economically. Today’s scenario has changed with the climate crisis, the declining health of our ocean and the growing loss of biodiversity, there is an urgent need to protect and conserve the ocean, not to destroy it,” said Joey Tau.

This 27th Session of the ISA continued negotiations of the draft exploitation regulations of the mining code, but the two-year rule trigger by Nauru could see countries applying for mining contracts as early as July 2023, despite exploitation regulations not finalized.

State parties agreed to review the road map on the progress of draft exploitation regulations, with majority stating that they will not lodge applications or plan of works to mine come July 2023. But Tau says, “there’s an uncertainty as some state parties are pushing for the finalization of exploitation regulations come July 2023.”

“Mining contracts or applications should not be approved, and mining should not take place next year, or 2024. This is the decade of ocean science for sustainable development (2021- 2030) and ISA must support efforts to reverse the cycle of decline in ocean health, rather than facilitate a destructive industry.”

Dahiva Hylton of JCCYC protesting out the ISA meeting - Source Greenpeace

Dahiva Hylton of the Jamaica Climate Change Youth Council (JCCYC) who hosted a peaceful demonstration outside the ISA meeting called for more transparency, criticizing the Authority for continuing to meet behind closed doors.

Numerous delegations also raised concerns on the Authority’s recent approval of test-mining, which was granted behind closed doors, without any consultation with stakeholders or ISA member countries.

“The common heritage of humankind is often referenced at the ISA, and if it concerns all humankind, the ISA must consult all stakeholders and not limited to scientists, geologists, lawyers, but be inclusive of youth, indigenous peoples,” argued Hylton.

Meanwhile, as COP27 gets underway in Egypt, General Secretary of the Pacific Conference of Churches (PCC), Rev. James Bhagwan, said the Blue Pacific continent is facing the harsh realities of climate change impacts, “and triggering a process to fast-track the exploitation and destruction of our ocean will exacerbate the current climate crisis.”

“The answers to this climate crisis are not the minerals sitting at the bottom of the ocean, rather the green revolution should be safeguarding and protecting the blue heart of our planet, our ocean,” said Bhagwan.

“The Pacific, individually and collectively, must do what we can to safeguard our ocean and futures…Our cultures have been our strongest form of resistance for we have an imbedded culture of conservation and environmental protection. Let’s draw the blue line against deep sea mining.”


For more information:

Joey Tau

Pacific Network on Globalisation


Dahiva Hylton

Jamaica Climate Change Youth Council


Rev. James Bhagwan

Pacific Conference of Churches

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