A response from Sir Peter Bottomley MP:
The UK has agreed not to support the issuing of any exploitation licences for deep-sea mining projects unless or until there is sufficient evidence about the potential impact on deep-sea ecosystems. This remains the case.
The UK’s approach is both precautionary and conditional, an approach that I support.
As a responsible international actor and Party to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), the UK is fully engaged in the negotiations underway at the International Seabed Authority (ISA) and will work closely with partners who are committed to ensuring the highest environmental standards are embedded in the Regulatory framework of the ISA.
To inform policymaking, the Government commissioned an independent evidence review into the potential risks and benefits of deep sea mining. This was conducted by the British Geological Survey, the National Oceanography Centre and Heriot-Watt University and was published in October 2022.
Through the UK’s sponsorship of academic research and existing exploration licences, over 70 peer-reviewed publications supporting a greater understanding of environmental issues associated with deep-sea mining have already been produced, with more to come.
The Government is also part-funding the SMARTEX project on seabed mining and resilience to experimental impact, which aims to build a better understanding of the ecosystem in the Pacific abyss.
The Government has made clear it would engage in public consultation before deciding to issue any UK-sponsored deep sea mining exploitation licence. Concerns about the awarding of contracts before this process has even begun are baseless. The Minister is aware of my views on this and of my wider views on bottom-trawling and other destructive practises to our marine environment.
Constituents will know of my longstanding work to defend out marine environment.
I am pleased to be a longstanding supporter of Greenpeace in taking real action to protect our seas from destructive trawlers. The South West Deeps (East) is a designated Marine Conservation Zone, protecting rare species and habitats from excessive human activities like fishing. Recent action to protect the area included the sinking of numerous large boulders to prevent trawling. I was pleased to have one named in my honour.
Destruction of our marine environments on an industrial scale must be prevented.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.