France, spokesman for the moratorium against the exploitation of the seabed in international waters

Published on January 18, 2023

On Tuesday, January 17, the deputies of the European Parliament adopted a resolution aimed at defending the moratorium against the exploitation of the seabed in international waters with an absolute majority. An activity that is currently unregulated and of great interest for metals in the deep. France, the world’s second largest naval power, is thus trying to influence the ongoing international negotiations.

After the President of the Republic, it is the deputies’ turn to speak out against the exploitation of the seabed. In a resolution proposed by environmentalist MP Nicolas Thierry on January 17 and passed by an absolute majority (215 votes to 56), they ask France to commit to a moratorium on seabed mining on the international stage. Emmanuel Macron defended this position at COP27 on climate in Sharm el-Sheikh last November and at the UN ocean conference a few months ago. The topic is very important because the pressure to exploit the currently unregulated mining resources found at a depth of 4,000 meters is increasing.

In June 2021, the president of the northern Australian island state of Nauru announced his intention to seek approval from the International Seabed Authority (AIFM), which is responsible for organizing activities related to deep-water mineral resources. Using deep water in the heart of the Pacific Ocean, the Clarion-Clipperton Zone (CCZ). The area is full of unique resources: polymetallic nodules containing cobalt, nickel, copper and manganese, among others. Following this request, and under the “two-year” clause included in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the AIFM has until July 2023 to submit regulations.

Already approved for testing and shocking footage

The problem is that the risks to deep-water ecosystems are still poorly documented. “The lack of scientific information about deep waters creates a great risk for the protection of these places, details the resolution. This is an activity with huge potential impacts, from the toxic effects of sediment plumes and heavy metals accumulating in the food chain to the release of greenhouse gases accumulated in ocean soils or the irreversible destruction of marine biodiversity.”

MEPs are therefore calling on the government to support a ban on deep-sea mining as part of the moratorium until it is proven by independent scientific groups that such mining activities can be carried out without disrupting or harming marine ecosystems. biodiversity. Dozens of countries support the position, including Chile, Costa Rica, New Zealand, Panama, Germany, Spain, Palau and Vanuatu.

“We need to take action and convince more and more countries to join France and several others who already support the moratorium at the next AIFM meeting in March!”, environmentalist MEP Marie Toussaint reacts. Because time is running out. Last September, Canada’s The Metals Company received a “trial” permit to mine 3,600 tonnes of metal in the Clarion Clipperton zone. Footage from the campaign was widely shared on social media last week, showing a flood of black rejections.

Companies have pledged not to use these minerals

“Let us be under no illusions: there can be no exploitation without irreversible damage to marine ecosystems, Secretary of State for the Sea Hervé Berville declared in the hemisphere. Therefore, our ambition is not only to prevent the granting of mining permits from this year, but also not to adopt the mining code in the current state of knowledge. Unfortunately, time is against us.”

Members of the European Parliament also demand reforms in the AIFM.must ensure full transparency on its obligations to act on behalf of humanity as a whole”. On the business side, a number of companies such as Google, BMW, Renault, Volvo, Philips, Samsung or, more recently, Tesla, have joined the general call for a moratorium on deepwater mining. seabed for the production of products.

Concepcion Alvarez @conce1

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