Greenpeace activists have peacefully confronted a deep sea mining ship off the coast of Manzanillo, México as it returned to port from the Pacific.
The Hidden Gem, commissioned by Canadian miner The Metals Company, has just returned from eight weeks of test mining in the Clarion Clipperton Zone between México and Hawaii. One of the biggest vessels of its type in the world, the ship planned to mine 3,600 tonnes of polymetallic nodules from the seafloor in a trial that could pave the way for full scale commercial mining.
Greenpeace México activists met The Hidden Gem in kayaks holding ‘Stop Deep Sea Mining’ banners while Greenpeace Aotearoa campaigner James Hita delivered a message to the captain of the Hidden Gem via radio.
Says Hita: "We are here today because deep sea mining threatens the health of the ocean and the lives and livelihoods of all who depend on it. The ocean is home to over 50% of life on Earth and one of our biggest allies in fighting the climate crisis. We will not stand by while mining companies begin to plunder the seafloor for profit.
"From a small vessel off the coast of México today, I radioed the captain of The Hidden Gem and made that very clear.
"Our message is clear: deep sea mining will not be tolerated. The indigenous-led movement opposing this destructive industry grows stronger every day and now includes thousands of people around the world, an increasing number of civil society groups and governments calling for a halt to deep sea mining. It cannot be allowed to go any further", says Hita.
To date, the governments of Palau, Samoa, Fiji, Micronesia, Chile, and New Zealand have all declared backing for a moratorium. While Germany backs a ‘precautionary pause’ and French President Macron recently called for an outright ban at the latest session of COP27 in Egypt.
"We see a future where the ocean that connects and nourishes us all, is thriving. A future where people’s way of life is protected and their spiritual connection to the ocean is respected. Deep sea mining has no place in this future."
Unless decisive action is taken by world leaders to implement a moratorium, mining of the deep could begin as early as July next year. The Metals Company has said it plans to apply for a deep sea mining licence in 2023 via the International Seabed Authority.
Says Hita: "The time for action is now. We are calling on world leaders to take a stand for ocean health to protect the ocean for the future by stopping this destructive extractive industry before it gains traction."
Aleira Lara, of Greenpeace México says: "The Clarion Clipperton Zone, where The Metals Company is conducting mining tests, is close to México. If this industry begins, it could have very dangerous implications for our country and the marine ecosystems around us. We are very concerned about this. The planet and communities are already suffering the consequences of the climate crisis and biodiversity loss. We do not need a new extractive industry that would only make things worse. For us it is very important that our government sees these potential risks and positions itself as a regional and global leader against deep sea mining."
Deep sea mining involves large machinery sucking up minerals from the deep and transferring them to mining ships, a process that produces a large sediment plume that could potentially smother ocean life, threaten people’s way of life and add to the climate crisis.
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The radio message that James Hita sent to the captain of the Hidden Gem:
Kia ora, hola, hello.
My name is James Hita from Greenpeace and I have a message for you and for the Metals Company.
We are here as guests in these waters to deliver this message to your company, a Canadian company, which is set to cause huge and irreversible harm to the global oceans if you continue to pursue deep sea mining.
While my people, my whānau, my family are back in Aotearoa fighting the daily and persistent impacts of colonisation, I am here today off the coast of Manzanillo, Mexico to deliver this message because deep sea mining threatens the health of the ocean and all of us who rely on it. It threatens our very future.
We know you have just returned from conducting deep sea mining tests in the Pacific, and we call on you and The Metals Company to cease and desist, and to stop pursuing your dangerous project to mine the deep ocean floor immediately.
For too long indigenous peoples have been pushed aside, in the name of neo-colonial extractive industries. Deep sea mining is yet another example of colonial forces exploiting Pacific land and seas, without regard to people’s way of life, food sources and spiritual connection to the ocean.
We are here to amplify the voices of civil society calling for a halt to this destructive industry before it gains traction. We call on you to abandon your plans to mine the deep.
Deep sea mining is an imminent threat to the ocean and the vast array of wondrous marine life that call it home. It is a threat to my family and a threat to yours. Over half of all life on Earth lives in the ocean which is also one of our biggest allies in the fight against the climate crisis. We will not stand by while deep sea mining companies - like you, The Metals Company seek to plunder the seafloor and decimate biodiversity for profit.
Scientists have warned that if deep sea mining goes ahead, it could jeopardise food security and livelihoods for communities who depend on the ocean. We see a future where the ocean is protected and thriving. There is no place for deep sea mining in this future.
We know that The Hidden Gem has been test mining in the deep, intending to pull up 3,600 tonnes of minerals from the ocean floor. This activity, by threatening biodiversity and risking carbon disruption, puts ocean health and therefore the health of the planet at risk.
The movement to stop deep sea mining and the companies behind it, is strong and it is growing exponentially. In the past few weeks, the governments of New Zealand, Germany, Chile and France have all spoken out against deep sea mining.
They join the Governments of Palau, Samoa, Fiji and Micronesia which have backed a moratorium and many more are voicing concerns.
Civil society in the Pacific and indeed around the globe are standing up for ocean health and calling for a halt to mining the deep, and Greenpeace stands with them.
We are calling on world leaders to be bold and ambitious and call for a halt to deep sea mining to protect the marine environment.
We believe there is no future in deep sea mining and we call on you to stop plundering the seafloor.
We are persistent and we are courageous.