Today, Earthjustice joined a coalition of conservationists, Indigenous rights advocates, marine scientists, and political leaders in sending a letter to the Biden administration expressing serious concern about the potential threats of deep seabed mining to Hawaiʻi, Guam, and other Pacific Islander communities and states.
Additionally, the signers called on the Biden administration to utilize the full diplomatic and economic leverage of the United States to support a moratorium by the International Seabed Authority (ISA) on deep seabed mining and a pause on issuing exploration or exploitation permits, while committing to sourcing critical minerals through sustainable policies.
The ISA will meet in Kingston, Jamaica on December 6, to plot the course of deep seabed mining, with global implications for the ocean and climate and the vital services they provide.
“Our ocean is a common global heritage, filled with diverse ecosystems that sustain us and are critical to fighting climate change. We must undertake every effort to protect it,” said Earthjustice Lands, Wildlife, and Oceans Legislative Director Addie Haughey. “There is no evidence to suggest deep seabed mining can occur without irreparable harm to the ocean and the communities in the Pacific for whom the ocean holds immeasurable cultural, spiritual, and economic significance. We can obtain the critical minerals needed for the transition to a clean energy economy without sacrificing our ocean and the people who rely on it. We urge President Biden to make every effort to prevent the reckless advancement of deep seabed mining and ensure a just transition to a clean energy future.”
On June 30, 2021, the country of Nauru employed a clause of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) called the “two-year rule” and notified the ISA of its intent to begin mining the Clarion Clipperton Zone by June 2023. Under this clause, mining could begin in waters abutting the U.S. exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in two years.
Signatories to the letter included Mission Blue President and Co-Chair Sylvia Earle, PhD, Hawaiʻi Wildlife Fund Executive Director Hannah Bernard, Conservation Council for Hawaiʻi Executive Director Moana Bjur, Prutehi Litekyan Save Ritidian Member and Organizer Monaeka Flores, Guam Legislature Senator Sabina Flores Perez, Earthjustice Attorney David Henkin, Papahānaumokuākea Reserve Advisory Council and Kāpaʻa Member Kolomona Kahoʻohalahala, Mauna Kea Anaina Hou and Kai Palaoa President and Founder Kealoha Pisciotta, and Senior Curator of Ichthyology and Director of XCoRE of the Bernice P. Bishop Museum Richard L. Pyle, PhD.
“The deep sea is closely tied to our cultural heritage, inheritance, and genealogical connections that acknowledge this realm as our source of all creation that is intimately described and chanted in the Kumulipo. The deep sea is our refugia and remains as our sacred place where creation still takes place to this day. As native Hawaiians and members of the community of Indigenous peoples in the Pacific and throughout the Honua, we bear the responsibility to care for these sacred places and to ensure their continuation in perpetuity,” said Kolomona Kahoʻohalahala, member of the Papahānaumokuākea Reserve Advisory Council and Kāpaʻa.
“The Ocean belongs to all of Humanity, not just corporations for profit. Therefore, it must be managed accordingly, for the benefit of all Humanity,” said Kealoha Pisciotta, president of Mauna Kea Anaina Hou and founder of Kai Palaoa.
“Our oceans’ health is vital for life on earth. Warmer ocean temperatures and acidification already pose great threats to marine ecosystems, deep sea mining could be catastrophic to our marine resources and the health of our planet and humanity,” said Conservation Council for Hawaiʻi Executive Director Moana Bjur.
Read the full letter.