Stop deep-sea mining, Macron demands, in call for new laws to protect ecosystems | deep sea mining

Emmanuel Macron, the French President, has called for a legal framework to stop deep-sea mining and urged countries to put their money into science to better understand and protect the world’s oceans.

There is growing international interest in deep-sea mining, but there is also pressure from some environmental groups and governments to either ban it or ensure it only occurs where appropriate regulations are in place.

Deep-sea mining would use heavy machinery on the seabed to suck up small rocks called nodules, which contain cobalt, manganese and other rare metals used primarily in batteries.

“We must … create the legal framework to stop deep-sea mining and not allow new activities that endanger these ecosystems,” Macron said on Thursday at an event on the sidelines of the UN Ocean Conference in Lisbon.

“But at the same time, we need to get our scientists and explorers to get to know the high seas better,” he added. “We need to understand better to protect.”

Although the President raised concerns about deep-sea mining, France has an exploration contract through the L’Institut Français de Recherche pour l’Exploitation de la Mer (National Institute for Marine Sciences) for an area of ​​75,000 square kilometers (29,000 sq mi) in the Clarion-Clipperton -Zone, an expanse of seafloor in the North Pacific rich in polymetallic nodules.

The International Seabed Authority (ISA), a UN body, draws up regulations for seabed mining on the high seas – areas that are outside of national jurisdiction. Until global rules are in place, seabed mining is not allowed.

Several nations, such as the Pacific islands of Palau and Fiji, but also Chile, have called for a global moratorium on all deep-sea mining activities, citing environmental concerns and a lack of adequate scientific data.

But not all countries are against it. China is a leader in deep-sea mining exploration, and small nations have also gotten involved. The tiny Pacific island nation of Nauru issued an ultimatum to the ISA last year, declaring its intention to begin deep-sea mining by June 2023 and urging the agency to expedite the adoption of seabed mining regulations.

The G7 countries agreed last month to only approve such mining projects if they do not seriously damage the environment. Peter Thomson, UN special envoy for the ocean, told Reuters he believed regulations would soon appear to address these concerns.