Canada says no seabed mining unless new ‘rigorous’ rules

Canada’s government on Thursday announced it would not permit mining of seabeds under its jurisdiction until a “rigorous regulatory structure” is put in place.

The interministerial statement was released as talks wrapped up in Vancouver of the fifth International Marine Protected Areas Congress (IMPAC5), which began last Friday.

“Canada does not currently have a domestic legal framework that would permit seabed mining,” said the statement by the ministers of Natural Resources and Fisheries and Oceans.

“In the absence of such a framework… Canada will not authorize seabed mining in areas under its jurisdiction,” the two added.

Supporters of deep-sea mining claim that pellets of nickel and cobalt — used in electric car batteries — can be conveniently scooped off the seabed, helping reduce our fossil fuel reliance.

But conservation groups and scientists fear this could devastate poorly understood marine systems that play a crucial role in regulating the climate.

Ottawa on Wednesday also announced plans to create a major new Marine Protected Area in the Pacific Ocean that would stretch from the top of Vancouver Island to the Canadian border with Alaska.

Also signed by several Indigenous groups, the new plan takes Canada one step closer to reaching its goal of protecting 30 percent of its land and ocean by 2030 — as agreed to during the historic Montreal Biodiversity Summit in December.

These “concrete actions,” Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault said, shows that Canada’s 30-percent commitment is “more than a slogan.”

They “say very clearly: this is how we maintain healthy ocean ecosystems for generations to come.”

The inclusion of Indigenous groups in both the planning and implementation of the proposals is “an important step in advancing both marine conservation and Indigenous reconciliation,” said the World Wildlife Fund.

The proposed protected area is home to more than 64 species of fish, 70 species of seabirds, 30 species of marine mammals, including killer whales, sea otters and dolphins, and 52 species of invertebrates such as mollusks, sea urchins and octopuses. –Agence France-Presse

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