The deep sea is the largest biome on Earth. This mysterious and varied place makes up 90% of the marine environment and plays a vital role in regulating our planetary systems, not least by absorbing and storing vast quantities of the carbon dioxide emitted into the air by human activity.
On February 3, 2020, the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition issued a memo to over 100 Permanent Missions to the United Nations and related organizations in New York. The memo refers to a workshop entitled “To explore the Case for Sourcing Battery Metals from Ocean Nodules and Nori’s Program to Assess Environmental and Social Impacts” scheduled for 5-6 February 2020 in San Diego and organized by speculative deep-sea mining companies DeepGreen and NORI.
In a rush to move this industry forward, proponents such as the workshop organizers have positioned the discussion around the questions of “when and how”, rather than the more fundamental question of “if” deep-sea mining should ever be permitted, and under what circumstances. Individuals and organizations around the world are increasingly calling for a moratorium on deep-sea mining out of concern for the damage it would cause to the fragile and yet-undiscovered ecosystems and species of the deep, and in the context of the urgent need to leave behind the extractive economic model in favour of a transformational approach that respects our planetary boundaries.
In this memo, we have compiled at a topline level some of the key arguments against the need for deep-sea mining.