Stage and film stars support deep-sea mining moratorium | Technical News

From the left, Joanna Lumley, Stephen Fry and Olivia Colman have all called for a ban on deep sea mining

From left, Joanna Lumley, Stephen Fry and Olivia Colman have all called for a ban on deep-sea mining (Images: Getty)

A group of celebrities has called on the government to back a global moratorium on deep-sea mining.

Olivia Colman, Jim Carter, Stephen Fry, Robert Lindsay and Joanna Lumley are calling on the UK to join a growing number of governments and companies around the world calling for the industry to be halted before it can get started.

Thirty-one exploration contracts have been awarded by the International Seabed Authority (ISA), although no company has yet been allowed to begin production.

They look for deposits of minerals like cobalt, zinc, and magnesium, which are commonly used in renewable technologies like solar panels and wind turbines.

Many scientists, activists, governments and companies fear that mining will destroy under-explored and fragile ecosystems on the sea floor.

Researchers at the Natural History Museum estimate there are as many as 8,000 undiscovered species in an area of ​​the Pacific called the Clarion-Clipperton Zone that has become a magnet for mining companies.

“It is vital that the government takes full account of the long-term consequences of deep-sea mining – the latest in a long list of threats to our beleaguered oceans,” Ms Colman said.

“The deep sea is home to diverse and fragile life forms that we are only just beginning to understand. Moving forward risks damaging ecosystems to the point where they may never recover.”

Robert Lindsay belongs to the anti-mining group

Robert Lindsay is part of the anti-mining group (Image: Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty)

The UK government has said it will only sponsor or support deep-sea mining contracts if there is sufficient scientific evidence of the potential impact on ecosystems and until “strong and enforceable” environmental regulations and standards are in place.

She has rejected a moratorium, arguing that it would be better to take part in negotiations to introduce environmental protection measures.

In March, UN member states, including the UK, agreed on the Global Ocean Treaty, which aims to protect large areas of marine life through tougher rules on deep-sea mining and fisheries.

What is deep sea mining?

Deep sea mining is the process of extracting mineral deposits from the deep sea floor – the ocean below 200 m.

The depletion of terrestrial deposits and rising demand for metals mean deep-sea mining could soon begin, although research suggests it could destroy habitats and wipe out species.

Charities and NGOs say comprehensive studies are needed to improve our understanding of deep-sea ecosystems and the vital services they provide to humans, such as food and carbon sequestration.

Source: International Union for Conservation of Nature

“Just months after the government celebrated its role in the historic UN treaty of the sea, it seems quite hypocritical to move forward with discussions on deep-sea mining,” Mr Fry said.

“Scientists’ serious and ongoing concerns about the risks that deep-sea mining poses to marine life should be more than enough to dissuade the government.”

“Rather than allow this destructive new industry to expand, the government must live up to its commitment to marine conservation and unite with others who are strongly opposed to deep-sea mining.”

An environmental rally against deep-sea mining was held in Lisbon yesterday

An environmental rally against deep-sea mining was held in Lisbon yesterday (Image: Jorge Mantilla/NurPhoto/Getty)

The call for stakeholders comes ahead of a round of talks at the ISA, whose 167 members, including the UK, are under economic pressure to allow deep-sea mining to begin, Greenpeace said.

More than 700 scientists from 44 countries have signed an open letter calling for a pause for the industry, while companies including Samsung, Google and Volvo have said they will oppose the use of seabed metals.

Greenpeace UK ocean campaigner Andrew Tobert said: “The government’s lack of action on deep-sea mining is at odds with its claim to be a world leader in marine conservation.”

“Moreover, it undermines its contribution to securing the UN treaty of the sea.”

“In two weeks, governments will formally adopt the treaty and then the UK must act to ratify it swiftly.” It is also crucial that UK ministers have a clear stance on deep-sea mining ahead of the ISA meeting in July take in.

‘We need a moratorium – that’s not far from the UK’s stated precautionary approach.’ What are you waiting for?’

MORE: Underwater noise from deep-sea mining could threaten whales and dolphins

MORE: Historic treaty to protect the world’s oceans is signed after ten years of talks

Justin Scaccy

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