August 20, 2022

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Emmanuel Macron speaks out against deep-sea exploitation

The topic is not on the menu of official discussions at the United Nations Conference on the Ocean in Lisbon until the 1st.R July. However, the question of the exploration and exploitation of the deep sea has largely occupied the news of these international meetings, until Emmanuel Macron’s Thursday, June 30, short but resounding declaration: “I think a legal framework should be created to stop deep-sea mining and not allow new activities that endanger ecosystems. [océaniques]. » The president has been a pleasant surprise for environmental NGOs, whose search for cobalt-rich crusts, sulfides and polymetallic nodules in the crater has so far seemed to tempt him.

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His interview with the highly respected oceanographer Sylvia Earle was able to be played at this stage, not in the plenary assembly, but in the Lisbon Oceanarium, in a basin where sharks pass and facing about forty players from the marine world. . At the opening of the UN meetings, this pioneer, the former director of science at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), stressed that mining is everywhere with environmental impacts. And wondered: “On dry land, we can at least monitor, fix problems and minimize damage. Six thousand meters below the surface, who is watching? »

Because France has the world’s second-largest maritime domain and its leader presents himself as a champion of protecting the ocean world – and he has proposed co-hosting the next UN Conference on the Sea in 2025 with Costa Rica – Paris. Expected at the turn. Pressure to get a moratorium to protect the deep sea from industrial greed has stepped up again in recent days. Environmental NGOs – highly mobilized – as well as many scientists – more than 600 of whom have appealed against this potential additional pressure on the seabed – are committed to protecting deep ecosystems, which are poorly understood. They also argue that it is precisely on its floor that the ocean performs an essential function: storing CO₂. So, is it appropriate to send collector robots there to lift sediment deposits?

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