No flag can claim the high seas, but many nations exploit them. As a result, life in the two-thirds of the oceans beyond any country’s territorial waters faces many threats that are largely unregulated, including overfishing and the emerging deep-sea mining industry.
Far from every shore, beyond the jurisdiction of any country, lie the vast high seas, full of life and biodiversity. They cover nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of the world’s ocean and harbor life, ranging from whales, turtles, sharks, and dolphins to deep-sea corals, hydrothermal vents, and, experts believe, a variety of undiscovered sea life.
Today the high seas face increasing threats from human activities, including fishing, pollution, and seabed mining, but there is no comprehensive conservation mechanism in place to protect the biodiversity that thrives in these waters and maintain a healthy ocean.
That could soon change. From March 25 to April 5, governments will reconvene at United Nations headquarters in New York to continue negotiations on the first treaty to protect the high seas by 2020.
Amnesty International is today publicly challenging leaders within the electric vehicle industry to make the world’s first completely ethical battery within five years. At the Nordic Electric Vehicle (EV) Summit in Oslo, the organization is highlighting how lithium-ion batteries, which power electric cars and electronics, are linked to human rights abuses including child labour in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and environmental risks which could undermine their green potential.
If you ask someone to describe the deep sea, the response is often a depressing description of a barren landscape devoid of life; one of such crushing pressure and eternal darkness that the chance of life surviving here seems only possible in stories of science fiction.
So, it would probably surprise you to hear that there are rich, deep-sea ecosystems under threat from an emerging ocean industry… and virtually no-one knows about it.
For decades, mining companies have been eager to extract rare and valuable metals and minerals from the deep sea — a practice that scientists have long warned could damage marine ecosystems. Now, the first large-scale test of a major industrial-mining technique promises to provide robust data on the impacts of the controversial practice.
On 11 March 2019, Nautilus Minerals Inc. took the next step in its bankruptcy proceedings, seeking court protection from creditors under the Canadian Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA). Having conducted a pre-filing on 21 February, that protection was extended to 28 June at the court ‘Comeback Hearing’.
On 21 February 2019, Nautilus Minerals Inc. filed for protection from creditors under the Canadian Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act. Whilst claiming this as a victory in their decade-long campaign to stop the Nautilus Solwara 1 Project in the Bismarck Sea, local communities and civil society in Papua New Guinea are taking heed that the fight is not over until all Nautilus licences are cancelled.
Human activity is transforming the planet and the deep ocean is no exception. As the demand for metals increases humans are seeking them in ever more remote places. The next frontier may be the deep seabed.