Statement by Pacific Elders’ Voice on Deep Seabed Mining

Need for Strong Regulatory Measures and Governance for Deep Seabed Mining Operations in the Pacific

The Pacific Elders’ Voice (PEV) notes, with great interest and concern, proposals to explore areas of the Pacific Ocean for deep seabed minerals.

The interest in deep seabed mining in the region comes from renewed demand to seek minerals to be potentially used in batteries for energy storage. These new batteries will be critical for a new circular vehicular industry that will reduce emissions, assisting climate change efforts through reduced terrestrial degradation and ocean acidification. Some of these minerals are found in manganese nodules on the ocean floor, particularly around the Clarion Clipperton Fracture Zone.

There is renewed pressure for mining these nodules by international mining consortia, some of which have forged partnerships with several Pacific Island countries, and registered their interests with the International Seabed Authority (ISA), established by the United Nations, for the purpose of regulating any mining of the seabed on the high seas.

The PEV is concerned about a lack of scientific and technical information, in particular, a lack of regulatory capacity on processes for deep seabed mining, and its negative environmental and social impacts to adequately manage and control this type of mining. It is a fact that most of the Pacific Island countries contemplating deep seabed mining do not have the capacity to effectively monitor such mining operations in which they may be involved.

The Pacific Elders’ Voice acknowledges, too, that the ocean and the ocean floor hold great significance and spirituality for the Indigenous Peoples of the Pacific and this should be considered when contemplating any mining.

The PEV strongly believes that the Pacific region takes a leading role in the dialogue on deep seabed mining to help it better understand the environmental and social impacts, while ensuring necessary regulatory measures are put in place.

Whilst acknowledging the critical role that the ISA plays in the regulation of deep seabed mining, the PEV is of the view that there is a need for a dedicated regional body to provide ongoing expert advice to Pacific Island Countries, based on sound research and knowledge, on this important issue. Furthermore, PEV is of the view that until proper regulatory instruments can be put into place, the region should refrain from engaging in any deep seabed mining.

The Pacific Elders’ Voice remains ready and willing to engage in detailed discussions relating to this issue.

This is a collective statement from Pacific Elders’ Voice. For further information please contact us.

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