AGAINST strong protest from activists, scientists, fisheries and the international community, the Norwegian government is moving forward with the planned opening of Arctic waters to deep sea mining.

Frode Pleym, Head of Greenpeace Norway, said: “This is a disaster for the ocean, and shameful for Norway. The Norwegian government is not only ignoring hundreds of concerned scientists, but also showing disregard for its international obligations and national environmental legislation. By opening up for deep sea mining, Norway has lost all credibility as a responsible ocean nation that signed the UN Ocean Treaty.”

In June, the Norwegian government issued a white paper proposing the exploration of deep sea mining across an expansive area equivalent to the size of the UK, situated between Svalbard and Jan Mayen Island in the Arctic region. On 5 December, Conservatives and the far-right Progressive party joined the Norwegian government parties to secure a majority to open the area for exploration, and take the first steps towards mining on the Norwegian seabed. The first extraction licences will need approval in the Norwegian parliament, which means that the battle against deep sea mining continues.

“This doesn’t end here. Across the Greenpeace network, we will work to stop every deep sea mining project presented to the Norwegian Parliament. The wave of protests against deep sea mining has just started to grow. Greenpeace has shown that we are ready to confront the industry on land and at sea, and we will not allow Norway to destroy the unique life in the deep sea, not in the Arctic nor anywhere else”, said Pleym.

The Norwegian plan for seabed mining has elicited a strong reaction from the international community. Activists in 20 countries have protested at Norwegian embassies. The EU Commission has expressed strong concern about the environmental impact of the plans. Over 100 European parliamentarians have written an open letter to their Norwegian colleagues, asking them to stop the opening process, and more than 800 ocean scientists have called for a pause on deep sea mining globally.

“Any state committed to sustainable ocean management cannot support exposing the fragile ecosystems of the deep sea to destructive mining. It is embarrassing to watch Norway positioning itself as an ocean leader while giving the green light to ocean destruction in its own waters”, said Frode Pleym.

In a ground breaking legal briefing, Norwegian law firm Wikborg Rein, acting on behalf of Greenpeace Nordic and WWF Norway, found potential breaches of Norwegian and international law in the country’s plans for deep sea mining in the Arctic.

* Source: Greenpeace International