Skip to main content Start of content
Start of content

e-3726 (Environment)

E-petition
Initiated by Nicole Zanesco from Halifax, Nova Scotia

Original language of petition: English

Petition to the Government of Canada

Whereas:
  • The deep-sea plays a key role in the health of marine ecosystems and species, making it indispensable for the sustenance of the ocean;
  • The International Seabed Authority (ISA) is tasked with the protection of the international seabed (Area) for the benefit of humankind;
  • The ISA is considering adopting rushed and inadequate regulations for deep seabed mining (DSM) in the Area;
  • The draft regulations do not require full public consultation, nor will they effectively protect the marine environment, thereby undermining the mission of the ISA;
  • There is enormous scientific concern and technological uncertainty surrounding DSM, with scientific consensus it will cause a net loss in biodiversity and irreparable environmental damage;
  • Canada’s domestic legislation, the Fisheries Act, effectively bans DSM to protect fish;
  • Per Canada’s international commitments, Canada has a responsibility to protect the Area for future generations;
  • Canada has an unfulfilled opportunity at the ISA to be a leader on environmental stewardship and good governance;
  • The green energy transition must be fuelled by a circular economy, not increased extraction; and
  • Precedent exists for international moratoria that effectively ban activities threatening the health and sustainability of the environment.
We, the undersigned, Oceans North, MiningWatch Canada, the Canadian Parks & Wilderness Society, Nature Canada, Northern Confluence, West Coast Environmental Law, and the citizens and residents of Canada, call upon the Government of Canada to:
1. Support a moratorium on deep seabed mining in the Area, in line with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Resolution 122; and
2. Immediately halt the granting of exploration contracts and the development of regulations for exploitation by the ISA, per the recommendations of the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy, of which Canada is a member.

Response by the Minister of Natural Resources

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, P.C., M.P.

Canada is home to a competitive, sustainable and responsible minerals sector across all stages of the mineral development cycle, and is committed to strong environmental, social, and governance principles. In order to secure a sustainable future and achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, Canada is taking a leadership role to advance the circular economy as demonstrated by its hosting of the World Circular Economy Forum in 2021 and its support to a variety of funding opportunities for individuals and businesses, as well as domestic and international initiatives.

 

The Government of Canada is building a circular economy for minerals and metals through initiatives like CanmetMINING’s Mining Value from Waste project, which fosters the transition to a low carbon economy by recovering minerals from old mine tailings, repurposing inert materials and reducing environmental liabilities. Other initiatives include ongoing work with the Automotive Recyclers of Canada to help prepare for an increased future supply of end-of-life electric vehicles and batteries so that parts reuse is maximized and critical minerals are sustainably recycled.

Response by the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): Mike Kelloway

Canada is a steward of the unique ecosystems and wealth of biodiversity that exists in the ocean. Offshore and deep-sea marine environments host a diversity of habitats that support many organisms. The oceans are the largest ecosystems on the planet and fulfill a role in mitigating climate change through heat absorption and carbon sequestration. For this reason, the Government takes a precautionary approach  - being cautious when scientific knowledge is uncertain, and recognizing that the absence of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing decisions where there is a risk of serious or irreversible harm. Canada agrees that approaching any exploitation of seabed mineral resources in an environmentally responsible manner is critical to ensuring  we maintain regional biodiversity, ecosystem structure and function, and enable the preservation of representative and unique marine ecosystems.

Canada is a member of the International Seabed Authority (ISA), an international organization in the United Nations system established under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the 1994 Agreement relating to the implementation of Part XI of UNCLOS (1994 Agreement). ISA is the organization through which States Parties to UNCLOS organize and control activities in “the Area” (defined as the seabed and subsoil beyond the limits of national jurisdiction, and its “resources” as all solid, liquid, or gaseous mineral resources in situ in the Area at or beneath the seabed). UNCLOS provides that the Area and its resources are the common heritage of humankind, that activities in the Area shall be carried out for the benefit of humankind as a whole and for the equitable sharing of financial and other benefits from such activities. ISA is currently in the process of developing regulations that would establish the framework for any potential seabed mining in the Area. Canada works with other ISA members to ensure that activities in the Area are carried out in a manner consistent with UNCLOS and the 1994 Agreement.

Prime Minister Trudeau is a member of the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy (Ocean Panel), a group of 16 world leaders committed to building momentum for a sustainable ocean economy in which effective protection, sustainable production and equitable prosperity go hand in hand. In 2020, the Prime Minister endorsed the Ocean Panel’s “Transformations for a Sustainable Ocean Economy” document, which recommended that “Sufficient knowledge and regulations are in place to ensure that any activity related to seabed mining is informed by science, and ecologically sustainable.”

For these reasons, Canada’s approach to the protection of the high seas and international seabed, including the regulations for seabed mineral mining under development at the ISA, is to support to the development of a legal and regulatory framework that provides effective protection of marine environments by applying the precautionary approach, the ecosystem approach, and the use of best available science and Indigenous knowledge. The Government is   working in partnership with other Ocean Panel members to advance this policy position, both within the ISA and other  international ocean bodies.

Canada does not have legislation in place that would permit the mining of hydrothermal vents, polymetallic nodules, or seamount crusts in areas under its jurisdiction. As such, Canada has never issued permits for exploratory seabed mining. Pursuant to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, to which Canada is a Party, any eventual national legislation established for seabed activities in areas under national jurisdiction must be “no less effective” than international rules, standards and recommended practices and procedures. There are currently a number of Acts that protect our marine environments in Canada, including the federal Fisheries Act, the Oceans Act, the Impact Assessment Act, Canadian Environmental Protection Act and Species at Risk Act.

The Government is  committed to working with stakeholders as the work to develop Draft Regulations and Standards and Guidelines continues. Canada will also continue to push for the ISA to increase transparency and access to information for all stakeholders. In line with the precautionary approach and its commitments under the Ocean Panel, the Government  will work towards sufficient knowledge and regulations being in place to ensure that any activity related to seabed mining is informed by science and ecologically sustainable.

Open for signature
December 20, 2021, at 11:52 a.m. (EDT)
Closed for signature
March 20, 2022, at 11:52 a.m. (EDT)
Presented to the House of Commons
Gord Johns (Courtenay—Alberni)
April 5, 2022 (Petition No. 441-00351)
Government response tabled
May 19, 2022
Photo - Gord Johns
Courtenay—Alberni
New Democratic Party Caucus
British Columbia
Disclaimer regarding petitions