• Trisha Hakim

Deep Sea Mining

The deep sea is a huge, pristine, and to a great extent, an unexplored area, with abundant biodiversity. These systems support key processes in carbon sequestration which in turn act on global carbon cycles and climate regulation.

There remain controversy and uncertainty about the methods of deep-seabed mining: none of the technology is being developed to achieve “no serious harm” to the environment and decades of investment in deep-seabed mining concepts has led to the expansion of machines and processes that may be highly impactful.

In the deep sea, we find underwater mountains that are oases for sea creatures, ancient coral reefs, and sharks that can live for hundreds of years and are especially vulnerable to physical disturbance. Machines cutting the seafloor will create sediment plumes, which smother deep-sea habitats for kilometers. And it is not just the pollution wildlife has to worry about. Noise generated by churning machines risks harming and disturbing marine mammals.

Deep-sea mining also leads to the extinction of species that are found nowhere else on the planet. The mining machines destroy the habitats that these creatures live in.

The deep sea is a major store of blue carbon, the carbon that is naturally absorbed by marine life, and which remains stored in deep-sea sediment for thousands of years after these creatures die. But by affecting the natural processes that store carbon, deep-sea mining could even make climate change worse. The disturbance brought about by the machines may release carbon stored in deep-sea sediments.

Not only this, but deep-sea mining also has an impact on the ocean food chain. The widespread disruption to marine life impacts the entire ocean food chain. Moreover, so far we have not even explored a small part of the deep seafloor to see what lives there. Without proper protection of the deep sea, we may demolish species and ecosystems that are yet to be discovered.

  • A better understanding of the deep sea is important to guide mitigation strategies and proper enforcement of regulations to restrain the environmental impacts of mining activities.

  • Comprehensive studies are required to be aware of what species live in the deep sea, how they live, and how mining activities could influence them.

  • High-quality environmental assessments are needed to evaluate the full range, extent, and duration of environmental destruction from deep-sea mining operations.

  • Current technologies may not be enough to avoid significant and lasting harm to the environment, including the loss of biodiversity. Mining operations strategies will need to prioritize the avoidance of environmental effects.

  • The repair, recycling, and reuse of products should be motivated to help reduce the demand for raw materials from the deep sea.

You can also sign the petition given below in the link to help build a strong global ocean treaty for healthy oceans.