HomeNewsStop deep-sea mining, says Macron, in call for new laws to protect ecosystems
Stop deep-sea mining, says Macron, in call for new laws to protect ecosystems
July 1, 2022
Emmanuel Macron, the French president, has called for a legal framework to stop deep-sea mining from going ahead 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 goes ahead if appropriate regulations are in place.
Deep-sea mining would involve using heavy machinery on the ocean floor to suck up small rocks, known as nodules, that contain cobalt, manganese and other rare metals mostly used in batteries.
“We have … to create the legal framework to stop high-sea mining and to not allow new activities putting in danger 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 promote our scientists and explorers to better know the high seas,” he added. “We need to better understand in order to protect.”
Although the president expressed concerns about deep-sea mining, France holds an exploration contract through the L’Institut Français de Recherche pour l’Exploitation de la Mer (National Institute for Ocean Science) for a 75,000 sq km (29,000 sq mile) area in the Clarion-Clipperton Zone, an expanse of the north Pacific seabed rich in polymetallic nodules.
The International Seabed Authority (ISA), a UN body, is drawing up regulations governing seabed mining in the high seas – areas that are outside any national jurisdiction. Until global rules are in place, seabed mining is not allowed.
G7 countries agreed last month that they would only consent to such mining projects if they did not seriously harm the environment. Peter Thomson, UN special envoy for the ocean, told Reuters he believed regulations to counter those concerns would appear soon.