Main image: Actor and oceans ambassador Olivia Coleman. © Chris Baker
Some of the UK’s best-loved film and TV stars united on World Oceans Day (08 June) to urge the UK government to stand by its promise to protect the oceans by calling for a moratorium on deep sea mining.
Household names and longtime oceans ambassadors Olivia Colman, Jim Carter, Stephen Fry, Robert Lindsay and Joanna Lumley – all of whom called on the government to back a strong Global Ocean Treaty – are using their platform to raise awareness of the dangers of deep sea mining.
They are urging the UK government to join a growing coalition of governments from Europe to the Pacific in calling for a halt to this destructive new industry.
The call comes one month ahead of a second crucial meeting of the International Seabed Authority, at which the organisation, made up of 167 member states including the UK and the European Union, faces commercial pressure to allow deep sea mining to start.
More than 700 scientists from 44 countries have opposed the deep sea mining industry by signing an open letter calling for a pause.
Companies from Samsung to Renault have also said they won’t use metals from the deep sea.
‘It’s crucial the government fully considers the long-term consequences of deep sea mining – the latest in a long list of threats to our beleaguered oceans. The deep ocean is home to diverse and fragile life forms that we are only just beginning to understand. To forge ahead risks damaging ecosystems to a point from which they may never recover.’
Actor and oceans ambassador
The UK government has so far refused to back a moratorium in favour of ‘constructive discussions’ and is sponsoring some of the largest areas for deep sea mining exploration in the Central Pacific’s Clarion Clipperton Zone (CCZ) through UK Seabed Resources. They cover an area bigger than England.
Just last month, UK scientists published evidence showing the CCZ supports upwards of 5,000 species yet to be recorded or studied.
‘Just months after the government celebrated its role in the historic UN Ocean Treaty, it appears rather hypocritical to forge ahead with discussions on deep sea mining. The serious and ongoing concerns expressed by scientists regarding the risks deep sea mining poses to marine life should be more than sufficient to dissuade the government. Instead of enabling the expansion of this destructive new industry, the government must honour its commitment to ocean protection and unite with others who are firmly opposed to deep sea mining.’
Actor and oceans ambassador
From July, any deep sea mining company can submit an application to start mining despite the absence of any rules or regulations to govern it.
Thanks to the invocation of a controversial loophole, governments are legally obliged to ‘consider’ it.
While the UK government sits on the fence, the rest of the world is waking up to the significance of the threat from deep sea mining.
As well as leading green tech companies calling for a pause, many governments are saying no to deep sea mining.
‘The government’s lack of action on deep sea mining runs completely counter to its claims to be a global leader on marine protection. Not only that, it undermines its contribution towards securing the UN Ocean Treaty. In two weeks’ time governments will formally adopt the Treaty and then the UK must act to swiftly ratify it. Alongside this, it’s crucial UK ministers take a strong stance on deep sea mining ahead of the ISA meeting in July. A moratorium is what’s needed – that’s not a million miles away from the UK’s stated ‘precautionary’ approach. What are they waiting for?’
Greenpeace UK oceans campaigner
Recent months have also seen Indigenous advocates reject deep sea mining, scientific warnings of the risks grow ever stronger, and Lockheed Martin, the longest-standing and biggest corporate backer of the industry call it quits.
And just this week Maersk announced it was jumping ship, selling its stake in The Metals Company, and becoming the latest big name to divest from deep sea mining.