Portugal Opposes Deep Sea Mining and Calls for Clarification of Rules

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Portugal has voted against deep-sea mining in negotiations at the level of the International Seabed Authority, calling for clarification of the legal framework and more scientific research, the Minister for the Economy and the Sea said yesterday.

Portugal’s stance came on Friday as part of meetings of the International Seabed Authority (ISA) Council and Assembly, where member countries are discussing whether or not to give the green light to controversial deep-sea mining.

Speaking to the Lusa agency, the Minister of Economy and the Sea said that “the delegation representing Portugal expressed the position that there cannot be mining activities in the deep sea.”

“We have to take a precautionary pause, and I think we are accompanied by several countries in the world, and therefore what we are asking for is the clarification of the regulatory framework and, above all, the development of greater activities in the area of scientific research, scientific knowledge, foreseeing all the gaps, filling all the gaps that exist,” said António Costa Silva.

Portugal’s position has already been praised by several environmental organizations, including Associação Natureza Portugal (ANP), which works with WWF, the world’s largest independent conservation organization, Sciaena and SOA, which “congratulate the Portuguese government,” and the Oceano Azul Foundation.

Portugal Opposes Deep Sea Mining and Calls for Clarification of Rules

The Minister explained that the negotiations in the ISA, an intergovernmental organization created by the 1982 Agreement of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, were aimed at defining a regulatory framework that would frame all interventions that could take place in the oceans.

António Costa e Silva said that “Portugal is extremely concerned about what could happen,” and that the country remains faithful to all the commitments it has made in the context of defending the conservation of the marine environment and the sustainable use of resources, “in accordance with the precautionary principle and within the framework of international law.”

“What is happening is that last Thursday, in the meeting that is taking place in Kingston, Jamaica, no agreement was reached and there are already countries, some Pacific countries, such as the Republic of Nauru, that have triggered a provision of the United Nations Convention on International Law that provides for the possibility of unregulated mining activities if there is no agreement. That’s why we reacted immediately,” he said, explaining Portugal’s position.

António Costa e Silva said that this precautionary pause prevents any activity on the seabed, “especially activities that are not regulated and do not comply with international standards”.

According to the Minister, the next step is to continue the negotiations in order to reach a “clear agreement” that will not only allow the defense of the oceans, but will also open the way to more knowledge, pointing out that Portugal will “coordinate bilateral and multilateral positions until a solution is found”.

António Costa e Silva pointed out that until now, countries have generally had a “blind relationship with the ocean”, without being based on scientific knowledge.

“We cannot, in an era like ours, allow blind interventions in the ocean to resume, without any scientific basis and without knowledge,” he said.

He said he believed Portugal’s position was supported by “most countries”.

“The ocean is for us a stabilizer of the planet’s climate, it is an extraordinary asset that the planet has, and we must use it in a sustainable way and, above all, defend it,” he added.

Portugal Opposes Deep Sea Mining and Calls for Clarification of Rules

The meetings of the International Seabed Authority began on Monday, July 10, and will continue until July 28.

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