Greenpeace is this week urging the International Seabed Authority to halt plans that would allow destructive deep sea mining to begin - starting in the Pacific.
The International Seabed Authority (ISA) is right now meeting in Jamaica to discuss regulations that would determine where and how the deep sea could be mined, largely drafting these plans behind closed doors, shutting out the communities that will be impacted first and hardest if the emerging industry goes ahead.
New Zealand is attending and Greenpeace Aotearoa campaigner James Hita says: "The New Zealand government must stand in solidarity with our Pacific neighbours and join the alliance calling for a moratorium on the destructive deep sea mining industry."
As an official observer at the meeting in Kingston, Greenpeace is urging decision makers to stop this destructive industry in its tracks. Greenpeace is part of an alliance of Pacific nations, scientists, youth activists and civil society organisations calling for a moratorium on the industry which could wreak havoc on one of the world’s most fragile ecosystems and exacerbate climate change.
"Deep-sea mining is a highly destructive practice that bulldozes the seafloor, decimating sea life and biodiversity, releasing carbon and causing even more stress on ocean ecosystems that are already on the brink", says Hita.
"We have a once in a lifetime opportunity to stop deep sea mining before it starts. We’re calling on the New Zealand government to support a halt to deep sea mining.
"The message from our Pacific neighbours is clear: we need urgent action on deep sea mining to protect the ocean that connects and nourishes us. Deep sea mining is a threat to us all, the ocean is home to over 90% of life on earth and is one of our greatest allies in the fight against climate change" says Hita.
Already facing criticism for its lack of transparency, inclusivity and accountability, the ISA cut its live stream coverage of negotiations earlier this week preventing interested parties from participating remotely. Led by Costa Rica, a group of attending countries called for transparency - including Canada, Russia, Italy, Chile, Spain, Dominican Republic, Belgium and New Zealand. Greenpeace and the rest of civil society backed these calls.
Greenpeace invited two Pacific activists to attend this session of the ISA on its delegation to support the voices of people who will feel the impacts of deep-sea destruction the most.
"The deep-sea is one of the great unknowns, and like much of outer space, it’s largely unexplored. Imagine if instead of sending research tools to Mars, we sent missiles to destroy it. This is essentially what deep sea mining will do to these unexplored parts of this beautiful blue planet", says Hita.
Scientists have warned that deep sea mining will likely lead to irreversible biodiversity loss, disturbance of one of the world's largest carbon sinks, and damage to fragile ocean ecosystems, which provides benefits such as medicines and fisheries.
The Pacific nations of Palau, Fiji, Samoa, and Micronesia, citing concerns about the impact the industry would have on the health of the ocean and the lives and livelihoods of Pacific Peoples, recently launched an alliance calling for a moratorium on the sector's development. Chile also recently submitted a letter to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea calling for a 15-year moratorium on the nascent industry. Over 200 members of Parliament from 47 different countries have also called for a moratorium on deep sea mining.
Last month Greenpeace Aotearoa launched a petition calling for a global ban on deep sea mining which has been signed by nearly 10,000 people.