The President and Vice-Presidents of the Council for the 28th session of the International Seabed Authority (ISA) issued today a joint statement on the recent incidents that have occurred between Nauru Ocean Resources Incorporated (NORI) and Greenpeace International in the NORI-D contract area located in the Clarion Clipperton Zone.

Taking note of the temporary measures issued by the ISA Secretary-General on 27 November 2023 as well as an Interim Report provided by the Secretary-General to the Council on 4 December 2023, the joint statement:

  1. Notes with concern that the reported protest activities of Greenpeace International on board and in the vicinity of “MV Coco”, the exploration vessel operated by NORI, prevented the Contractor from carrying out its lawful exploration activities in the Area, involving a scientific task to collect environmental data in the NORI-D Contract Area on recommendation of the Legal and Technical Commission;
  2. Expresses its concern about the serious threat posed to the safety of the crew and other personnel on board the vessel;
  3. Recall that the Area is the common heritage of humankind and that in view of the shared objectives of ISA to pursue exploration activities in gathering and assessing environmental data, urges all concerned parties on this matter to work in a constructive and collaborative manner in furtherance of the mandate of ISA in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea;
  4. Takes note that the Greenpeace vessel, Artic Sunrise, left the NORI-D contract area on 4 December 2023, and invites the Council to address the incidents in the NORI-D contract area during Part I of the 29th session of ISA;
  5. Informs that the President and Vice-Presidents of the Council remain attentive to different legal instruments and institutional mechanisms that may contribute, beside UNCLOS and ISA, to a solution in this matter;
  6. Calls upon Greenpeace International to refrain from future actions that could disrupt the contractual activities of NORI on board its vessels or in its contract area and further calls upon Greenpeace International to act with due and reasonable regard in conformity with Articles 87 (2) and 147 (3) of UNCLOS.

Factual background

On 25 November 2023 and on 26 November 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 23 November 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 actions of several zodiacs and kayaks with other representatives of Greenpeace on board continued to interfere with the operations of MV Coco. NORI further alleged that Greenpeace International had 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 had repeatedly disregarded and continued to disregard requests to maintain a safe distance from MV Coco, nor the allegation that its representatives had interfered with the operation of MV Coco and boarded the MV Coco without authorization. Greenpeace did not offer 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 26 November 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 27 November 2023, the Secretary-General informed the Kingdom of Denmark, as the flag state of MV Coco, of the same. On 27 November 2023, in the light of the urgency of the matter, the Secretary-General promulgated interim measures of a temporary nature, with a view to resolving the unfolding incident. The Secretary-General further communicated to the Netherlands on 28 November 2023, 30 November 2023, and 1 December 2023 inviting the Netherlands to consider “any necessary regulatory steps” under Articles 87(2) and 147(3) of UNCLOS and Paragraph 8(g) of the Notification of immediate measures. The Netherlands formally responded to the Secretary-General on 15 December 2023.

On 2 December 2023, Tonga Offshore Mining Limited (TOML) notified the Secretary-General that the conduct of Greenpeace International also amounts to an interference with its programme of work as the scientific campaign carried out by NORI was done in partnership with TOML under the activities agreed by the Contractor signed with ISA.

On 4 December 2023, the Secretary-General provided the Council with a report on the immediate measures taken on 27 November 2023 stressing that the “supervision over activities in the Area ultimately rests with the Council” pursuant to art.162(2)(a) and (l) of UNCLOS and that the Immediate Measures have been insufficient to remedy the situation and allow the Contractor to pursue its activities without undue interference.

On 4 December 2023, Greenpeace reportedly ceased its interference with the exploration activities of NORI.

For media enquiries, please contact:

Ms. Jaimie Abbott, Communications Specialist, ISA,