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Greenpeace International activists onboard the Rainbow Warrior display a banner reading “Stop Deep Sea Mining” close to the Maersk Launcher, a ship chartered by DeepGreen, one of the companies spearheading the drive to mine the barely understood deep sea ecosystem. Photo by Marten van Dijl via Greenpeace

Canada Says It Won’t Permit Sea Floor Mining

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February 11, 2023

Feb 9 (Reuters) – Canadian officials on Thursday said they would not allow mining in its domestic ocean seabeds, citing a lack of legal authority as well as the federal government’s environmental commitments to protect marine areas.

Sea floor nodules contain metals used in batteries that are needed to fuel the world’s transition to clean energy, but trawling the sea floor for them could disrupt ecosystems. 

“Canada does not presently have a domestic legal framework that would permit seabed mining and, in the absence of a rigorous regulatory structure, will not authorize seabed mining in areas under its jurisdiction,” top Natural Resources Canada officials said in a statement.

“Due diligence, as well as precautionary and ecosystem-based approaches, must be exercised with respect to decision-making regarding seabed mineral activity and governance,” Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson and Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard Minister Joyce Murray added.

The decision comes after a report commissioned by the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy, which includes representatives from 14 countries, in 2020 said mining on sea floors should not begin before full assessments of the likely environmental impacts are made.

Related Article: Renewable Energy vs Ocean Life – The Deep Sea Mining Dilemma

Canadian officials on Thursday cited pledges to boost ocean conversation in coming years in order to protect marine and costal areas.

Any decision on whether to allow seabed mining needed to be “informed by science” and protect ecosystems while also weighing economic and social effects, the officials wrote.

Canada is also not exploring the potential for seabed mining outside its jurisdictional waters, it added, citing previous G7 commitments. 

(Reporting by Denny Thomas; writing by Susan Heavey; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)

(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2023.

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