WWF-Norway sues government over deep seabed mining, citing insufficient impact assessment

WWF is taking legal action against the Norwegian government for opening areas for deep seabed mining activities.

Oslo, Norway (May 23, 2024)

"We believe the government is violating Norwegian law by now opening up for a new and potentially destructive industry without adequately assessing the consequences. It will set a dangerous precedent if we allow the government to ignore its own rules, override all environmental advice, and manage our common natural resources blindly," says WWF-Norway CEO Karoline Andaur.

WWF-Norway is suing the government over its decision to open vast areas for deep seabed mining activities. A notice of lawsuit was sent to the government in April.

"We hoped the notice of a lawsuit would prompt the government to reconsider and withdraw its controversial decision. Unfortunately, WWF-Norway sees no other options but to proceed with legal action," says Andaur.

WWF-Norway believes that the strategic impact assessment by the Ministry of Energy, which underpins the government’s decision, fails to meet the minimum requirements of the Subsea Minerals Act § 2-2. Consequently, there is no legal basis for the decision to open these areas for mining activity. This concern was also highlighted by the government expert body, the Norwegian Environment Agency, in its public consultation response.

Significant international opposition

Norway is among the first countries to open areas for seabed mining, despite warnings from national and international experts, as well as significant criticism from the EU and global research communities.

"While other countries opt for a moratorium to gather sufficient knowledge about the deep sea environments to assess the consequences of mining and ensure the effective protection of the marine environment, the Norwegian Offshore Directorate has already invited industry proposals for extraction licenses. This approach is both arrogant and cynical, damaging Norway's reputation as a responsible ocean steward," says Andaur.

Note: In a previous version of this press release, it was stated that the Norwegian government had not responded to WWF's notice of lawsuit. WWF was notified on May 23rd that the government did respond on May 7th, disputing WWF's claim that the opening decision is not valid.

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