By Abigail Balais
Photo courtesy of CBC News
On the last day of a global ocean conservation summit, Canada declared a moratorium on Deep-Sea Mining in the waters they have jurisdiction over. In a recent article, Natural Resources Minister Jonathon Wilkinson explained that there is “no good science and no existing domestic or international legal framework that would allow for mining to take place in an environmentally sustainable manner.” He also explained that because they currently cannot make informed decisions about seabed mining, a moratorium is now in place to ensure that Deep-sea mining only advances “if conservation measures are in place to protect the ocean ecosystem.”
Another factor considered when declaring this deep-sea moratorium was that the Ocean is our biggest ally in the fight against Climate Change because it is the planet’s most significant carbon sink. This was important because if mining were to continue, it would further stress the marine environment that is already impacted by other human-caused problems, like warming waters, pollution, and acidification. Because the ocean is the least understood ecosystem on the planet, it is crucial not to mine the deep sea without understanding the consequences that are likely severe and “far-ranging.”
This decision to place a moratorium on deep sea mining is a small step in the right direction because it responded to numerous climate activist groups urging Canada’s government to make changes and protect the ocean. However, these groups are still urging the government to do more than call for a moratorium. Especially one that likely goes against what big oil companies want: to make more money.
The decision to declare a moratorium was in response to Environmental Justice and Activist Groups. This is only one example of how fighting for the rights of the Environment is impactful, and can result in changes as big as these. The main groups who pushed for this prior to the decision are IMPAC5, and the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition (DSCC). IMPAC5 stands for International Marine Protected Areas Congress, and this is where Canada announced this decision, on February 9, 2023. The DSCC is one group that is currently pushing for an even harsher halt in deep-sea mining.
Despite the advances in sea protection placed by the moratorium, deep-sea mining critics are concerned that if the International Seabed Authority (ISA) does not develop a mining regulatory framework by July, there will be a global race in securing resources at the expense of the seabed. The sad reality is that deep-sea mining groups will continue their mining despite any regulations, emphasizing the importance of stricter moratoriums and regulations. For these reasons and more, it is important for groups like the ISA to do their due diligence and produce this framework to prevent an ambitious global race from occurring.
“Home - impac5 - Vancouver BC Canada.” IMPAC5, 9 Feb. 2023, https://www.impac5.ca/.
“Protecting the Deep Sea for All of Us.” Deep Sea Conservation Coalition, 19 Aug. 2020,
World, Canada &, and News. “Canada Declares Moratorium on Deep-Sea Mining at Global
Ocean Conservation Summit.” Prince Rupert Northern View, 13 Feb. 2023,