As Deep-Seabed Mining Ramps Up, Scientists Study Environmental Effects

“Timing is running short to develop an international framework to help prevent environmental harm to deep-sea life and to share resources equitably among nations, experts say.”

“Mining the ocean floor for submerged minerals is a little-known, experimental industry. But soon it will take place on the deep seabed, which belongs to everyone, according to international law.

Seabed mining for valuable materials like copper, zinc and lithium already takes place within countries’ marine territories. As soon as 2025, larger projects could start in international waters — areas more than 200 nautical miles from shore, beyond national jurisdictions.

We study ocean policy, marine resource management, international ocean governance and environmental regimes, and are researching political processes that govern deep seabed mining. Our main interests are the environmental impacts of seabed mining, ways of sharing marine resources equitably and the use of tools like marine protected areas to protect rare, vulnerable and fragile species and ecosystems.”

Elizabeth M. De Santo, Elizabeth Mendenhall, and Elizabeth Nyman report for The Revelator August 21, 2020.