Source: The Pew Charitable Trusts
For the first time, we have a comprehensive overview of the gaps in our knowledge about ocean areas targeted for deep-sea mining and how they could be impacted. New research published today in the journal Marine Policy shows that the science is insufficient to support evidence-based decision-making should mining move forward.
These findings come as the International Seabed Authority prepares to meet in late March to discuss regulations that would allow commercial-scale deep-sea mining to begin as early as July 2023.
The study was led by deep-sea biologist Dr. Diva Amon, Ph.D. — who recently starred alongside Will Smith in an episode of National Geographic’s “Welcome to Earth” series on Disney+ and more than 30 other scientists and policymakers from around the world. The study includes a review of hundreds of scientific articles and interviews with dozens of stakeholders to identify gaps in environmental knowledge for areas of the deep seabed targeted for mining. The article also proposes a path for filling those gaps to help policymakers better understand the negative ecological and economic impacts that mining would cause so they can ground their decisions in science.
“Besides being a vast reservoir of biodiversity, the deep ocean provides us with benefits ranging from carbon sequestration, to medicine, to food chains that sustain billions of people. But climate change, habitat destruction, and overfishing are already stressing the ocean, and seabed mining would jeopardize ocean health even more. If we continue to proceed on this path blindly, we will lose parts of our ocean before we truly know them and the benefits they offer. We can’t effectively manage and protect what we don’t know, understand, and value.”
– Lead paper author Dr. Diva Amon, Ph.D., marine biologist and director and founder of SpeSeas
“We’ve made incredible progress over recent decades in building our understanding about life at the bottom of the ocean. But this research shows just how far we still have to go before we can make evidence-based decisions about activities that could pose unacceptable risk to this part of our planet. The international community must come together in a concentrated effort to support more deep-ocean science — and to ensure mining should not move forward unless and until we can be certain that the ocean will not be harmed.”— Andrew Friedman, associate manager of The Pew Charitable Trusts’ seabed mining project