Environmental NGOs join fight against Portugal’s zeal for deep sea mining

A group of environmental NGOs has mobilised in the face of Portuguese government zeal to sell-off huge tracts of ocean for deep-sea mining (click here).

Joining the international group Seas at Risk, Quercus, Geota, LPN and “others” have affirmed that the “perspectives of profit (from deep-sea mining) do not outweigh the environmental damage it provokes”.

Talking to Lusa, the NGOs’ representative Monica Verbeek said Portugal is “the only country in Europe” even contemplating deep-sea mining.

“It does not need to do it”, she stressed – particularly as the government and environment ministry have said they are focused on a “circular economy, based on recycling and less consumption”.

“There is no point destroying the marine seabed to search for minerals, because they will become less necessary”, she told the State news service.

Portugal’s priority instead should be “the defence and protection of deep sea environments”.

This is also the opinion of environmentalists round the world who have been decrying the very notion of deep-sea mining since it was first mooted (click here).

Nonetheless, the first major exploration off Papua New Guinea is due to go ahead next year, and the company behind it already has its sights firmly set on the Azores (click here).

Copper, magnesium, gold, nickel – these are all apparently in rich supply, particularly in areas with ‘hydrothermal vents’ (c0mmonly found in ‘areas at risk of earthquakes’ on tectonic plates).

Algarve campaigning group ASMAA has been sounding the alert about deep-sea mining for years (click here).

Seas at Risk mobilisation will add welcome new muscle to this fight.

Monica Verbeek told Lusa that the group hopes Portugal “takes care” at the next meeting of the International Seabed Authority, due to take place between August 7-18.
NGOs’ meantime are sounding their “profound concern”.

“We want a Portugal that it is at the vanguard of sustainable development”, said Verbeek – apparently alluding to decisions ISA will be making about internal changes and international regulations.

Quercus, Geota and LPN are also keen to have an audience with the government to “highlight the significant, irreversible impacts” of deep-sea mining, she added.

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