The Pacific nations of Palau, Fiji, and Samoa have formed a new alliance to call for a moratorium on deep-sea mining, citing the industry’s potential hazards to ocean ecology.
“We believe it is not worth the risk. We ask all of you to support that deep-sea mining increases the vulnerability of the seabed floor and marine life,” Palau’s President Surangel Whipps Jr. said at the U.N. Ocean Conference in Lisbon on Monday.
Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama said that while Fiji has adopted a measure to ban deep-sea mining by 2030 and expanded its maritime protected areas by 8 percent, he believes that more could be done to prevent the industry if other countries follow suit.
Deep-sea mining uses heavy machinery to suck up off the ocean floor potato-sized rocks or nodules that contain cobalt, manganese, and other rare metals mostly used in batteries.
Moratorium on Deep-Sea MiningChile on June 17 called for a 15-year moratorium on adopting regulations for deep-sea mining, urging state parties to extend the deadline for adopting regulations and obtaining “more evidence and scientific certainty to ensure the protection of the marine environment.”
Last month, the Group of Seven nations agreed that stringent environmental controls should govern deep-sea mining and would only approve such projects if they did not harm the marine environment.
But not all nations are against it. China is a major proponent and even smaller nations like the Pacific island of Nauru, for instance, asked the ISA last year to fast-track the adoption of seabed mining regulations.