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Ireland has supported calls for a “precautionary pause” on deep-sea mining on the international seabed.

The “pause” means that no deep-sea mining should take place until a “robust” regulatory framework is in place to protect the marine environment, and until scientific knowledge is sufficient for informed decision-making.

Welcoming the decision, three government ministers also said that Ireland will endorse a political declaration calling for a partnership of the sea, initially made on behalf of 13 countries as part of the International Seabed Authority (ISA) in March of this year.

Ireland is a member of the ISA, which was established by the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. Irish representatives will take part in ISA meetings from July 10th.

The Department of Foreign Affairs says that to date, the ISA has only authorised exploration activities but says there have been recent efforts by some states and mining companies to accelerate moves towards an exploitation phase.

This is in spite of “the fact that negotiations on a mining code, including environmental regulations, have yet to be concluded, and significant scientific knowledge gaps persist”, it says.

Welcoming the decision by Government, Tánaiste Micheál Martin said that “Ireland today joins a growing chorus of countries, scientists, civil society organisations and private companies calling for a precautionary pause of deep-sea mining”.

He was supported by Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien, who is responsible for marine planning, and Minister of State for Heritage Malcolm Noonan.

Published in Marine Wildlife
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Deep-sea mining for scarce minerals and trace elements may have a “catastrophic impact” on the ocean floor, a study by the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group warns.

The International Seabed Authority (ISA), which Ireland is a member of, “lacks transparency”, and “appears committed to development of deep-sea mining, on which its existence and revenue depends”, the report says.

The report says that deep-sea habitats are “currently largely unexplored by man and far removed from all human settlements”, and it is “difficult for many people to appreciate what impacts deep sea mining might have on marine habitats and resources”.

The increasing demand for scarce minerals and trace elements used in technologies such as smart phones, electric cars and green energy is “putting greater demand on existing land-based sources of these minerals”, it points out.

As a result, “attention is being turned to opportunities in the deep seas (>200 m), where mineral deposits can be retrieved from the sea floor,” it says.

“Ireland has an extensive Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), with rich and diverse marine ecosystems, including poorly studied deep water ecosystems and species”, and “could experience emerging deep-sea mining interests in the coming decades”, it warns.

With an estimated value of $15.3 billion dollars by 2030, the development of deep-sea mining would be some of the largest planned mining operations in history, the IWDG report says.

“ Current exploration licences cover an area of 1.5 million km alone, which, if mined commercially to entirety, would be the equivalent to mining the combined area of France, Spain, Portugal, and Germany,” it says.

Exploration companies are required to submit reports to the ISA secretariat, but these reports are not disclosed to the public, and there has been no action taken against companies for breaches of exploration conditions, it contends.

“Any threat to deep-sea ecosystems should be considered as a threat to marine life, and ultimately humanity,” the report says.

“ At this point, without an independent environmental regulator and sufficient knowledge of deep-sea ecosystems and how they impact on the global environment, we are not in a position to responsibly proceed with commercial deep-sea mining, both on the high seas and within national jurisdictions,” it concludes.

It says that Ireland as a member of the ISA and various international treaties, “has a right and a duty to protect the marine environment on the high seas and within Ireland’s EEZ from transboundary effects”.

The full report is HERE

Published in Marine Wildlife

Eve McMahon's 2021 sailing achievements

  • Irish Sailor of the Year 2021
  • Gold Medallist Youth World Championships Italy Highest Ranked Irish Female 
  • Star Sailors league Silver medal at the Youth European Championships Croatia Gold medallist U19,
  • Silver medallist U21 Senior European Championships Bulgaria Race win Senior European Championships Bulgaria
  • Selected Paris 2024 Olympic Solidarity Scholarship Sport Ireland
  • 15th Senior European Championships Bulgaria, 1st Irish Female, securing Sport Ireland Carding.
  • Youth ISAF World Representative Oman, equivalent to Youth Olympic in sailing,
  • 4th overall Guinness World Record Participant Beach Clean up -
  • Oman Gold medallist U19 Allianz World Cup Netherlands
  • Gold medallist U23 Lanzarote International Regatta 4th
  • U21 European Championships Montenegro
  • Nominated for Irish Sailor of The Year
  • Bronze medallist Connaught's Wexford
  • 9th Silver Fleet European Continental Qualification
  • 5th Pre-Qualifciation regatta Lanzarote