UN official says group moving on deep-sea mining regulations

By Hannah Northey | 03/15/2024 01:33 PM EDT

The International Seabed Authority is about to kick off another two weeks of negotiations on the contentious topic.

A field of ferromanganese nodules.

A field of ferromanganese nodules that could be the source of valuable minerals is shown. Photo Courtesy of NOAA Ocean Exploration

A top U.N. regulator said Friday that mining of the world’s ocean floors should not move forward without rules in place, but that his agency cannot stop companies from trying to move ahead if countries can’t agree on a framework.

Michael Lodge, secretary-general of the International Seabed Authority, told reporters at a news conference that there’s widespread agreement that safety and environmental rules are needed before mining takes place. He dismissed calls for the group to instead prohibit all ocean mining.

A growing number of countries and environmental groups have called for the body to impose a moratorium on mining of the deep seas until the effects of such a practice can be more fully studied and understood.


“We are still working on the basis that everybody wants to see regulations and there should be no mining without regulation,” Lodge said. “That seems to dispose of the so-called moratorium issue that there’s been some publicity about in previous years.”