Petition Stop deep-sea mining
We ask the UK Government to protect the ocean and commit to preventing the start of deep-sea mining.
Many other governments around the world have said they do not support deep-sea mining and are implementing a ‘precautionary pause’, or have called for a moratorium.
Mining companies want to extract minerals and metals from the deep sea, but scientists say this would cause irreversible harm to ocean life.
The deep sea is home to incredible biodiversity, said to be on par with tropical rainforests. Mining machines would do immense damage to fragile deep-sea ecosystems and could disrupt the carbon-storing powers of the ocean.
We cannot protect our oceans if we allow the deep seabed to be mined.
We must stop deep-sea mining before it begins.
This response was given on 18 July 2023
Engaging fully with international negotiations is the most effective approach, so that no deep-sea mining takes place in the absence of strong and enforceable environmental regulations and standards.
The UK recognises the growing pressure to extract resources from the sea, and therefore must act carefully and cautiously in coming to a conclusion about this important area of policy.
We judge that engaging fully with international negotiations is the most effective way for the UK to work with others, so that no deep-sea mining takes place in the absence of strong and enforceable environmental regulations and standards.
As part of the United Nations Convention on the Law on the Sea (UNCLOS), the UK is fully engaged in the negotiations underway at the International Seabed Authority (ISA) and will work closely with partners who are committed to ensuring the highest environmental standards are embedded in the Regulatory framework of the ISA. The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office leads the UK delegation to the ISA.
We recognise the growing pressure to extract deep-sea resources and are concerned about the potential impacts of mining activities on the fragile marine environment. This is why the UK will maintain its position of not sponsoring or supporting the issuing of any exploitation licences for deep sea mining projects unless and until there is sufficient scientific evidence about the potential impact on deep sea ecosystems, and a strong, enforceable environmental regulatory framework has been developed at the ISA and is in place. This approach is both precautionary and conditional.
At present, UK Government has sponsored licenses so that UK Seabed Resources (UKSR) can conduct a range of exploration activities in two areas of the Pacific, including establishing environmental baselines, but there are no mining (exploitation) activities taking place in either UK national waters or areas beyond our national jurisdiction. Further and detailed environmental impact assessments would be required in advance of any exploitation licence being issued, including a public consultation.
The UK is continuing to develop a better understanding of the impacts of deep-sea mining. Through Government sponsorship of academic research and existing exploration licences, over 70 peer-reviewed publications supporting a greater understanding of environmental issues have already been produced, with more to come. We have also commissioned an independent evidence review into the potential risks and benefits of deep-sea mining, and this has been published (https://www.bgs.ac.uk/news/deep-sea-mining-evidence-review-published/) in line with our commitment to transparency and developing the global evidence base in relation to deep-sea mining.
In summary, we judge that engaging fully with international negotiations is the most effective way for the UK to work with others. The UK is fully engaged in the negotiations underway at the International Seabed Authority (ISA) and will work closely with partners who are committed to ensuring the highest environmental standards are embedded in the Regulatory framework of the ISA. The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office leads the UK delegation to the ISA.
Department for Business and Trade
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