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Greenpeace, JET oppose plans for deep sea mining

BY RACQUEL PORTER
Observer staff reporter
porterr@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

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GREENPEACE activist Louisa Casson is calling on governments to agree on a Global Ocean Treaty that would protect oceans from industrial exploitation, instead of negotiating rules that can allow deep sea mining (DSM).

Casson was among protestors who travelled across the ocean on Greenpeace's ship, the Esperanza, to the Kingston Harbour.

The visit of the Greenpeace activists to the Jamaican capital coincides with the annual meeting of the International Seabed Authority, now taking place at Jamaica Conference Centre in downtown Kingston.

“Scientists are warning that deep sea mining will cause irreversible harm to our oceans that could possibly lead to extinction of species, and it could make climate change worse by disrupting the carbon storage in the seabed. So, at a time of a climate emergency and a nature crisis, we simply cannot afford to take the risk of opening up the largest eco system on earth to a reckless new industry,” Casson told the Jamaica Observer.

Noting that the International Seabed Authority is supposed to be the regulator of deep sea mining, the Greenpeace official accused the UN agency of actually prioritising the development of the industry rather than protecting it. “We simply do not need more resource extraction, and what we need is government to agree on a global ocean treaty next year at the United Nations, which puts protection, not exploitation, at the heart of how we manage our global oceans.”

Stressing the harm DSM has on the environment, Casson said sending monster machines several kilometres below the wave is an ingredient for potential irreversible and unavoidable damage.

“The oceans are facing more threats now than at any time in history, but the dangerous deep sea mining industry wants to put yet more pressure on fragile ecosystems,” she said.

In March, Cabinet gave approval for Jamaica to enter the emerging industry of deep seabed mining, through an agreement with Blue Minerals Jamaica Limited.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, in a release then, said this “progressive and visionary step” will see Jamaica joining a select group of 20 countries, including the UK, Germany, China, Korea, India and Belgium, in deep seabed mining activities.

The foreign ministry noted then that deep seabed mining was essential to future sustainable global growth and viewdas a major contributor to future demand for the minerals required for global electrification, such as electric cars and electric infrastructure.

However, Jamaica Environment Trust (JET) CEO Suzanne Stanley, who was among the protestors yesterday, told the Observer yesterday morning that there would a a serious negative impact on the environment.

“There is nothing good that can come for the environment from deep sea mining...,” Stanley said.

“We have our own concerns about Jamaica's recent entry into this area. The Government signed a sponsorship agreement with Blue Minerals Limited, a deep sea mining company that will be prospecting deep sea minerals, and we are very concerned about the implications for Jamaica,” Stanley said.

According to Stanley, there is no legislation and regulation in Jamaica governing deep sea mining. She said, too, that there was also an absence of international legislation and regulation in relation to deep seabed mining. She said efforts to get further information on the details of the agreement with Blue Minerals have been unsuccessful.

“We did meet with the Government of Jamaica; we met, with representative of the International Seabead Authority, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Office of the Prime Minister to discuss the agreement [but] there wasn't a lot of information coming out of those meetings, unfortunately,“ said Stanley.

“... The details were very limited and so we are currently speaking with experts, including Greenpeace and other partners internationally, who have more experience and knowledge of the issue. I am trying to get a better understanding of what they think the implications could be and then we will determine what the next steps are in terms of what actions need to be taken from this point on,” said Stanley.


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