Deep-sea news (3-10 July)

Date: July 10, 2023

Check out the top stories from the deep, taken from coverage between 3-10 July 2023

Seabed mining could sink the fishing industry

Source: 360info

Author: Jesse van der Grient, University of Hawaii at Manoa

The Pacific holds the world’s largest tuna industry and tuna fisheries are known to operate in areas being explored for mining. An irreversible impact on these fish stocks could be devastating for Pacific Island communities who depend on the ocean for food and their livelihoods.

There’s still much we don’t know about the potential impacts of deep-sea mining. It’s a real cause for concern, particularly for ocean-dependent communities. Various tests and simulations show how mining can adversely affect seafloor organisms and that their recovery rates can be slow, both for microbes and animals. Not only is the damage limited to the seafloor, but the impacts extend to the water column above and the impacts of changing sound levels are also poorly understood.

Deep-sea mining myths, debunked

Source: Newsroom New Zealand

Author: Eleonore Lebre

Commercial deep-sea mining is likely to start in the Pacific Ocean soon as the International Seabed Authority – the governing body under the UN Convention Law of the Sea – will finalise deep-sea mining regulations in July. Newsroom New Zealand debunks some deep-sea mining myths to better anticipate what is coming next.

The mining sector needs to prepare for the indirect effects a rise in deep-sea mining may have on terrestrial operations. To minimise the risks, it can assess its exposure by assessing the vulnerability of its cobalt, manganese, copper, and nickel assets. Understanding the land and communities earmarked for projects is crucial for improved environmental and social outcomes.

The following myths are busted:

  • Myth 1: There are not enough resources on land to power the energy transition
  • Myth 2: Deep-sea mining will improve energy security
  • Myth 3: Deep-sea mining will be less harmful than conventional mining

Rare octopus nursery found, teeming with surprises

Source: National Geographic

Author: Jessica Taylor Price

A Schmidt Ocean Institute expedition to study the ocean’s depths off Costa Rica confirmed the existence of two healthy octopus nurseries – one in an area called the Dorado Outcrop, and another about 30 nautical miles away – where dozens of females gather together to brood their eggs near hydrothermal vents. 

The findings double the number of octopus nurseries known to scientists, challenge previous assumptions about how the creatures breed, and highlight the importance of underwater vents and seeps to the development of marine life. The Schmidt Ocean Institute says the expedition’s Costa Rican scientists are now working to determine whether the vents they studied should be designated as marine protected areas in order to keep them safe from deep-sea fishing and mining. The team is heading back to the area in December to explore further.

Future of deep-sea mining hangs in balance as opposition grows

Source: The Guardian

Author: Karen McVeigh and Chris Michael

This week, the list of countries calling for a pause on deep-sea mining continued ahead of a key moment that mining companies hope will launch the fledgling industry, and its opponents hope could clip its wings, perhaps for good.

Ireland and Sweden became the latest developed economies to join critics, including scientists, environmental organisations and multinationals such as BMW, Volvo and Samsung. The carmakers have committed not to use minerals mined from the seabed in their electric vehicles. Last month, the European Academies Science Advisory Council warned of the “dire consequences” for marine ecosystems and against the “misleading narrative” that deep-sea mining is necessary for metals required to meet the transition to a low-carbon economy.

UK should press pause on deep-sea mining, Labour says

Source: The Guardian

Author: Karen McVeigh

David Lammy, the shadow foreign secretary, says Labour government would join growing list of countries and multinationals opposing rush to mine the seabed, ahead of a crucial meeting of nations in Jamaica to decide the future of the industry.

In a speech at the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law in London, Lammy said Labour would restore the UK’s reputation as a country that respected and upheld international law, which he said had been damaged by the Conservatives, and to lead on the challenges of the future, including the climate crisis: “the greatest challenge we face”. Britain is among 14 countries sponsoring exploration or research contracts – the only type allowed so far – by companies intent on mining the deep sea. The others are China, Russia, South Korea, India, France, Poland, Brazil, Japan, Jamaica, Belgium, Nauru, Tonga and Kiribati.

Posted on Categories Fisheries Mining Science