Greenpeace Could Be Expelled From International Seabed Authority Meetings

The boarding team aboard Coco's A-frame (Greenpeace)
The boarding team aboard Coco's A-frame (Greenpeace)

Published Mar 18, 2024 3:37 PM by The Maritime Executive


Environmental NGO Greenpeace could be thrown out of the UN's seabed regulatory agency over an altercation on the high seas last year.

Deepsea mining firm The Metals Company (formerly DeepGreen Metals) clashed with Greenpeace when the NGO's activists boarded its vessel on the high seas. In November 2023, the Greenpeace vessel Arctic Sunrise rendezvoused with the chartered offshore vessel Coco and launched an attempt to block its operations. In addition to small-boat protests near the Coco's stern, the plan called for sending a team of climbers aboard to occupy the vessel's A-frame platform. The operation effectively prevented the crew of the Coco from carrying out the vessel's mission of collecting environmental data on a trial run of mining operations.

Coco's charterer, The Metals Company (TMC), filed suit in the Netherlands and obtained an emergency injunction requiring Greenpeace to cease and desist. The group complied with the terms and withdrew its climb team from the Coco's weather deck, ending a week-long interruption in the ship's operations. 

The Metals Company says that the Coco's mission was to gather data for the International Seabed Authority, and that Greenpeace disrupted its scientific mandate. Greenpeace, for its part, says that the environmental risks are too high to proceed with deep sea mining until appropriate regulations are in place. 

"Responsible nations at the ISA are listening to the mounting science that shows deep sea mining would cause irreversible damage to the oceans. The Metals Company and startups like it, don’t have the time or the interest, for a serious and transparent debate. The momentum is on the side of a moratorium," said Louisa Casson, the deep sea mining campaign leader for Greenpeace. 

The ISA's 167 member states will vote on whether to revoke Greenpeace's observer status when they meet this week.