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Canada refuses to permit seabed mining absent regulatory regime

The Government of Canada will refuse to permit seabed mining absent a rigorous regulatory regime. Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Natural Resources, and Joyce Murray, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, released a statement confirming Canada’s position:

  • Canada does not currently have a domestic legal framework that would permit seabed mining; and

  • In the absence of such a framework, the Government of Canada will not authorize seabed mining in areas under its jurisdiction.

The government said that seabed mining should only take place if effective protection of the marine environment is provided through a rigorous and comprehensive regulatory structure, taking precautionary and ecosystem-based approaches, using science-based and transparent management, and ensuring effective compliance with effective inspection mechanisms.

In April 2019, Fisheries and Oceans Canada announced its new protection standard for new federal Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). The MPA Protection Standard is a federal baseline of a common set of activities that are prohibited or further restricted. Further prohibitions may apply according to each MPA law.

On 8 February 2023, during the 5th International Marine Protected Area Congress (IMPAC5) held in Vancouver, Canada unveiled proposed new sites being pursued for marine conservation targets, as well as further details related to its MPA Protection Standard.

Canada is a member of the International Seabed Authority Council and is actively engaged in the negotiations on seabed mineral exploitation regulations. Made up of 167 Member States, and the European Union, the International Seabed Authority is mandated under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea to organize, regulate and control all mineral-related activities in the international seabed area for the benefit of humankind as a whole.

Mineral exploration and exploitation do not currently occur in existing federal marine protected areas, and the Government’s 2019 MPA Protection Standard prohibits mining in future federal MPAs.


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