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One Ocean Summit: IUCN concerned over seabed mining in French waters

One Ocean Summit: IUCN concerned over seabed mining in French waters

While the Single Ocean Summit brings together a large number of Heads of State on a “blue diplomacy” initiated by the President of the French Republic, the IUCN’s French Committee wishes to warn of potential mining exploitation within of French maritime space through official positionreleased Friday.

There has been a lot of talk over the last few days about the threat posed by the weight of the seabed, one of the last surviving ecosystems on our planet – the desire to go and extract minerals. Many NGOs are concerned about the effects of this type of industry on these habitats, which are still little known and far from all forms of sound and light, and which are developing very slowly.

However, the possibility of extraction outside the maritime spaces under the sovereignty of the Coastal States, known as the “Zone” in legal jargon, seems to be highlighted. However, within the Zone, extraction is controlled by the International Seabed Authority, which issues exploration permits (France has two) and is currently working on regulating activities to develop a mining code. would rule the extraction.

However, this is not the case within maritime areas under national jurisdiction, including within French waters. showing, as a reminder, the second Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and the largest continental shelves in the world. And this in particular, thanks to the overseas territories located in the three oceans, but also to the fact that France has been working hard in recent years to expand its continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles: known as the “expanded continental shelf”, which enabled the French to acquire 730,000 km2 of additional maritime space off Guyana, the West Indies, Reunion, Southern Territories and New Caledonia.

Read also: Emmanuel Macron prioritises France 2030 for seabed exploration

However, the government made it clear last October that it wanted to secure strategic metals such as cobalt, copper or nickel, which would have certain spaces within the EEZ and the French plateau, especially outside of New Caledonia,, French Polynesia and the French Southern Territories. – nevertheless inhabited by exceptional and fragile marine ecosystems.

The IUCN French Committee, by publishing this position, wishes to warn of the dangers of mining in French waters. The State has sovereign rights over its soil and subsoil natural resources, rights that are only slightly controlled by French legislation. France, in its new national seabed strategy (January 21, 2021) proposes to explore these funds, and no longer conceals its ambition to pursue them. It is also in the process of drawing up a directive repealing the only provision of the French mining code which has hitherto prohibited the exploitation of the French seabed.

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