The Secretary-General of the ISA Takes Immediate Measures in Response to NORI-D Area Incident
The Secretary-General of the International Seabed Authority (ISA) used his powers under Regulation 33 of the Regulations on Prospecting and Exploration for Polymetallic Nodules, to promulgate immediate measures of a temporary nature in relation to the reported incident involving the ISA contractor, Nauru Ocean Resources Inc (NORI), and Greenpeace International in the NORI-D contract area in the Clarion-Clipperton Zone.
The measures taken by the Secretary-General are of a temporary nature and call upon:
- all parties present in the vicinity of NORI’s vessel MV Coco as of November 27, 2023, (other than the crew of MV Coco) to maintain a safety distance from MV Coco of at least 500 m;
- parties who have boarded MV Coco on or since November 25, 2023, without authorization from the captain of MV Coco to refrain from interfering with the operation of MV Coco;
- NORI and Greenpeace to co-operate with a view to ensuring that the parties who have boarded MV Coco on or since November 25, 2023, without authorization from the captain of MV Coco are safely disembarked from the MV Coco as soon as practicable;
- NORI and Greenpeace to report to the Authority on a daily basis as to the steps taken to ensure compliance with this immediate measure of temporary nature (unless no further updates are required by the Secretary-General);
- NORI and Greenpeace to relay the contents of these immediate measures of a temporary nature to their personnel on board or in the vicinity of MV Coco;
- NORI to provide a detailed report on the assessment of the consequences of the disruption of the exploration activities NORI alleges to have taken place since November 23, 2023;
- the Netherlands (as the flag State of the Greenpeace vessel, Arctic Sunrise) to consider what measures, if any, are warranted pursuant to international law and the laws of the Netherlands concerning the conduct of Greenpeace and the Arctic Sunrise in the present circumstances.
On November 25, 2023, and on November 26, 2023, NORI notified ISA of the disruption of its permitted exploration activities in the NORI-D contract area, by representatives of Greenpeace International, whilst carrying exploration activities aimed at gathering scientific and environmental data and observations.
NORI alleged that the conduct of Greenpeace had caused significant safety risk since November 23, 2023, with Greenpeace repeatedly disregarding requests to maintain a safe distance from the exploration vessel MV Coco. According to NORI and reported in the media, a number of representatives from Greenpeace subsequently boarded the MV Coco without authorization and climbed to the top of the A-frame at the stern of MV Coco, further gravely exacerbating the safety risks, whilst the ongoing actions of several zodiacs and kayaks with other representatives of Greenpeace on board have interfered and continue to interfere with the operations of MV Coco. NORI further alleges that Greenpeace International has communicated to NORI the intention to stay on board the MV Coco as long as MV Coco is within the Exploration Area.
On 26 November 2023, the Secretary-General requested Greenpeace to comment on the allegations raised by NORI. On 27 November 2023, Greenpeace provided its response. According to Greenpeace, it is engaged in a “safe and peaceful protest at sea”, in the exercise of its “right to peaceful protest at sea”. However, Greenpeace does not deny that it has repeatedly disregarded and continues to disregard requests to maintain a safe distance from MV Coco, nor the allegation that its representatives have interfered with the operation of MV Coco and boarded the MV Coco without authorization. Greenpeace has not offered materials (such as photo or video recordings) to rebut the observation of the Secretary-General that “[t]he circumstances described by NORI prima facie pose a serious threat to the safety of individuals present in the Exploration Area and to the marine environment.”
On November 26, 2023, the Secretary-General also informed the Netherlands, as the flag State of the vessel of the Arctic Sunrise, of the allegations raised by NORI. On November 27, 2023, the Secretary-General informed the Kingdom of Denmark, as the flag state of MV Coco, of the same.
The measures taken by the Secretary-General will remain in effect for no longer than 90 days, or until the Council decides at its next regular session or a special session, what measures, if any, to take pursuant to Regulation 33(6).