A High-Stakes Week for Deep-Sea Mining

Date: July 16, 2018

Source: Oceans Deeply
Author: Todd Woody

As the International Seabed Authority meets to debate environmental regulations for the extraction of minerals from fragile ocean habitats, the debate grows between nations and corporations favoring mining and scientists concerned about irreversible impacts.

KINGSTON, JAMAICA – As the International Seabed Authority (ISA) meets this week at its oceanside headquarters to draft regulations governing the mining of unique deep-ocean habitats for valuable minerals, delegates to the United Nations-chartered organization face a seemingly impossible task: writing rules to protect from mining rare marine ecosystems of which little is known.

The ISA is charged under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea with regulating the exploitation of the seafloor outside national jurisdiction – in other words, nearly 50 percent of the planet – while at the same time preserving its biodiversity. Until recently, that mandate was more or less theoretical as mining metals at depths that can reach 6,500m (21,000ft) simply was not technologically possible.

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