London – For the first time, an exclusive Greenpeace report reveals who is behind the controversial deep sea mining industry, showing who stands to benefit and who is left at risk if governments allow deep sea mining exploitation to begin. The analysis tracks the ownership and beneficiaries of private companies who are behind calls to open up the seabed to commercial mining. The investigation uncovers a web of subsidiaries, sub-contractors and murky partnerships whose ultimate decision-makers and those in line to profit are based overwhelmingly in the Global North – while the states sponsoring these companies, largely countries in the Global South, are exposed to liability and financial risk.

Louisa Casson, from the Protect the Oceans campaign, said:
“In the middle of a climate and wildlife crisis, when global inequality is worsening, why on earth are we even considering ripping up the seabed for profit? Deep sea mining would be terrible news for the climate, disrupting crucial carbon sinks in the ocean; for people, jeopardising food security and livelihoods; and for wildlife, threatening ecosystems we barely understand. Some companies pushing this risky industry are literally speaking on behalf of countries at the UN. It’s staggering. The deep ocean, the world’s largest ecosystem, must remain off-limits to the mining industry.”

To date, 30 contracts to explore for deep sea mining covering over a million square kilometres of the international seabed, an area roughly the size of France and Germany combined, have been given out by the UN’s International Seabed Authority (ISA), which is supposedly responsible for regulating any activity on the seafloor “for the benefit of mankind as a whole”. The publication of the report coincides with the expected re-election of the British Secretary General of the ISA, Michael Lodge, as part of their 26th Session.

Nearly a third of these contracts involve private companies, largely headquartered in North America and Europe, raising questions that the potential profits of this industry could further accentuate global inequities. 

“The ISA is supposed to be protecting the oceans and it’s not doing its job” Casson continued. “It’s critical governments establish a Global Ocean Treaty in 2021 that could lead to ocean sanctuaries around the world, free from harmful human activities, instead of opening up a new frontier of environmental destruction.” 


Photos can be downloaded here

[1] Download the Deep Trouble: the Murky World of the Deep Sea Mining Industry report here 

[3] Greenpeace and scientists are calling for a Treaty that can create a network of ocean sanctuaries covering at least a third of the global oceans by 2030. For more information see Protect the Global Oceans: Why We Need a Global Ocean Treaty. The fourth round of negotiation at the UN towards a treaty covering international waters should take place in 2021. 

[4] Louisa Casson is an oceans campaigner at Greenpeace UK.

 Julia Zanolli, Global Media Lead for the Protect the Oceans campaign, Greenpeace UK: [email protected], +44 07971 769107

Greenpeace International Press Desk: [email protected], +31 (0) 20 718 2470 (available 24 hours)

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