A “gold rush” of seabed mining could lead to unprecedented damage to fragile deep-sea ecosystems, researchers have warned.
With major decisions on the future of seabed mining expected in 2019-20, scientists and policy experts from the University of Exeter and Greenpeace have recommended a range of measures to prevent environmental damage.
They say deep-sea ecosystems currently need more protection, rather than new threats.
They also argue that mining in the deep sea (depths below 200m) could be avoided altogether if humanity moved towards a “circular economy” that focuses on reuse and recycling of metals, reduces overconsumption and limits built-in obsolescence of technology.
“This ‘gold rush’ is being driven by our ever-growing demand for minerals,” said Dr David Santillo, a marine biologist and senior Greenpeace scientist based at the University of Exeter.
“Should we allow seabed mining – with the risk it poses to deep-sea ecosystems – or should we focus instead on reducing this demand for virgin minerals?”
The scientists also call for an improved network of Marine Protected Areas, strict regulations and monitoring of all human activities on the seabed, and far greater transparency on the costs and benefits of any proposed mining.
“The deep sea is beyond the jurisdiction of any single state and we need more joined-up global governance to prevent biodiversity loss from human activities”, said Dr Kirsten Thompson, a marine biologist at the University of Exeter and co-author on the study.
“Some areas targeted for seabed mining are known to be hotspots for biodiversity, including habitat for endemic corals and nursery grounds for sharks.”
The paper, published in the journal Frontiers in Marine Science, gives an overview of the current state of regulations and their likely effectiveness, with the aim to stimulate wider discussion before the International Seabed Authority reaches any decisions to allow commercial mining of the seafloor.
“Many marine scientists are concerned that, once the first commercial contract for mining is issued, there will be no going back,” said Kathryn Miller, a co-author on the study.
“Before that happens, we should be absolutely certain that we have looked carefully at all the other options for a more sustainable future.”
The study recommends:
- Sustainability: Create a “circular economy” based on reuse and recycling, extending product lifespans and discouraging overconsumption.
- Monitoring: Robust monitoring and research of deep-sea ecosystems through an international ocean agency.
- Protection: Establish a coherent network of Marine Protected Areas.
- Transparency: Inform the global community, including all indigenous groups and small-island states, of the costs and benefits of proposed activity according to the United Nations convention stipulation that activities in the deep sea must be carried out for “the benefit of mankind”.
- Legislation: Strict regulations to prevent harm to ecosystems must be enforced by the regulatory body and be independently verified.
The study follows a previous paper that suggested seabed mining could do irreversible damage to deep-sea ecosystems.
The paper is entitled: “Seabed mining and approaches to governance of the deep seabed.” The paper is open-access and is available at https://doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2018.00480
Learn more: Warning over deep-sea ‘gold rush’
The Latest on: Seabed mining
via Google News
The Latest on: Seabed mining
- NGO calls for Pacific-wide ban on seabed miningon November 30, 2019 at 4:36 am
An NGO working with coastal communities near the site of planned undersea mining in Papua New Guinea’s north is demanding a Pacific-wide ban on seabed mining. Prospective undersea miner, Nautilus, was ...
- Rigworld Solutions inaugurates bolts and nuts factory in Western Regionon November 27, 2019 at 11:38 am
Rigworld Solutions, which is in partnership with UK Steadfast and Hydrasun, offers excellent alternatives for oil, gas and mining companies to acquire high quality and affordable ... specific ...
- The Amazonian issue: new issue of MINE out nowon November 26, 2019 at 3:18 am
In the next issue, we zoom in on Japan to find out where the country sources its metals and what the future holds for the Japanese mining industry. In Africa, we take a look at the history of seabed ...
- World Maritime University contributes to deep seabed mining discussionson November 22, 2019 at 1:07 am
The International Conference on Legal, Scientific and Economic Aspects of Deep Seabed Mining took place at the International Seabed Authority (ISA) in Kingston, Jamaica from 14-16 November. The ...
- Demand for sand in urban India is 60mn metric tonnes per year: Studyon November 20, 2019 at 11:13 am
“Extraction of sand from the seabed leads to pollution, flooding ... and spent fire bricks,” said Asolekar who had provided his opinion on alternatives for sand mining to the Bombay high court, based ...
- Mine waits for restructureon November 18, 2019 at 7:19 pm
WORK on Nautilus’ proposed seabed mining project in New Ireland will not begin until the firm concludes its restructure exercise, according to the Mineral Resources Authority. Providing an update on ...
- Scramble for the Indo-Pacific Seabedon November 15, 2019 at 4:00 pm
China is poised to dominate seabed mining – if it ever becomes feasible, that is. All Sections Search Read The Diplomat, Know The Asia-Pacific My Account Sign In Subscribe Central Asia East ...
- What vision do we have for the deep sea?on November 14, 2019 at 10:17 am
States are currently seeking to develop a legal framework for deep seabed mining. In cooperation with the Heinrich Böll Foundation, an international team of researchers from the Institute for ...
- Sonar System Market 2019-2025 Focus on Growth Projectionson November 14, 2019 at 4:22 am
Since unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) are integrated with SONAR systems for seabed mapping and mining, the growth in offshore industries and the investment of oil companies in UUVs will propel the ...
- Electric car future may depend on deep sea miningon November 13, 2019 at 4:07 am
The future of electric cars may depend on mining critically important metals on the ocean floor. That's the view of the engineer leading a major European investigation into new sources of key elements ...
via Bing News