ISA

5
Apr
2019

Source: EurekAlert

The area to be investigated by the research project “Mining Impact” is located in the Clarion Clipperton Zone (CCZ) in the northeast Pacific at approximately 4,500 metres water depth shrouded in complete darkness. Here, in an area of five million square kilometres, manganese nodules are abundantly found on the seabed. Their metal content offers a potential for commercial deep-sea mining. In recent years mineral raw materials from the deep sea have become the focus of some countries and companies in order to secure their supply with high-tech metals.

Continue reading Manganese nodules: Desired mineral resource and important habitat

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15
Mar
2019

Source: The Ecologist
Author: Amber Cobley

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.

Continue reading Deep-sea mining: regulating the unknown

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15
Mar
2019

Source: Nature
Author: Olive Heffernan

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.

Continue reading Scientists track damage from controversial deep-sea mining method

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3
Mar
2019

Source: ABC News
Author: Antony Funnell

In 2005 a US nuclear submarine hit something solid south-east of Guam. It was reportedly operating at full speed at a depth of about 160 metres when the collision occurred. The nose of the USS San Francisco was so severely damaged that the craft had trouble surfacing. The accident injured 98 submariners. One subsequently died.

It was later revealed the obstacle wasn’t a rival vessel, as speculated, but a large undersea hill. The incident caused huge embarrassment for the world’s most powerful military, but it also reinforced how little we still know about the underwater environment.

Continue reading here.

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1
Mar
2019

Source: The Maritime Executive
Author: Jessica Aldred

It’s one of the coldest, darkest places on earth, full of marine life – much of which is yet to be discovered – with a seabed rich in mineral deposits.

In the last decade, the floor of the deep ocean that lies outside the jurisdiction of any one country has been increasingly explored. A number of parties are assessing the size and extent of mineral deposits that could provide raw materials for everything from batteries and jet engines to wind turbines and mobile phones.

Continue reading The Future of Deep Seabed Mining

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1
Mar
2019

Source: The Globe and Mail
Author: Amy O’Kruk

Deep in the North Pacific Ocean, in an area as wide as the United States, billions of potato-sized rocks litter the ocean floor. These lumpy, black-brown balls are full of cobalt, nickel, copper and manganese – valuable minerals that are crucial for electronics and evolving green technologies, such as electric cars and solar panels.

Continue reading The new frontier: deep-sea mining

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1
Mar
2019

DSCC representatives Duncan Currie and Matthew Gianni attended the International Seabed Authority Ad Hoc Working Group on Financial Matters, followed by a special Council meeting in Kingston, Jamaica, from 21 February to 1 March, 2019.

At the Working Group, the DSCC asked repeatedly how the 1% figure earmarked for the environment had been derived. The DSCC said that an accurate valuation of deep sea ecosystem services and damage to biodiversity is key, and emphasized that the Liability Fund would need to be fully funded before any mining begins. “It is essential that all funds for the environment, including liability funds, are paid by deep-sea miners, not by the Common Heritage of Mankind,” said Duncan Currie. “The work on valuing the deep sea and the inevitable loss of biodiversity from mining has not even begun.”

At the Council meeting, the DSCC insisted that the precautionary principle must be binding, that workshops must be open to all participants, and that there should be an Environment or Scientific Committee in place. Equally important for transparency, the Legal and Technical Commission should hold its meetings in open session and there should be virtual webinars to facilitate participation. Additionally, the DSCC noted that standards must be binding and that regional environmental management plans must be in place before any mining applications are accepted.

“It is unacceptable that the powerful Legal and Technical Commission holds its meetings behind closed doors,” said Matthew Gianni, “and it is long past time that an Environment or Scientific Committee was formed.”

The DSCC was, however, encouraged by an intervention by the African Group, which stated that “ We would like to recall, in this regard, words pronounced by Peter Thomson, Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-General for the Ocean…in Davos last month, ‘There is a UN decade for Ocean science, which has been agreed to by 193 countries […] in the General Assembly in December 2017, and that decade will run from 2021 to 2030 […] why wouldn’t we give that decade its full run before we start even thinking about disturbing the seabed of the high seas, we are talking moratorium of 10 years in that case’. These words are food for thought to all of us.”

The DSCC hosted a side event about environmental impact assessments – a critical measure toward ensuring the effective protection of the marine environment. The event focused on the importance of public independent scientific advice and expert examination of all environmental documents, with stakeholder participation.

During the meeting, Nauru gave its national microphone to deep-sea mining company DeepGreen, which made numerous unsubstantiated claims, including that deep-sea mining is needed for renewable energy and that it will stop when it has enough. Yet DeepGreen has asked for the suggested 30 year mining period to be extended. Belgium then handed its microphone (normally the privilege and responsibility of a government representing its national interests) to its contractor – Deme – which insisted that was not intending to “mine” but to “harvest” deep-sea minerals.

“We, and many others, were shocked that Belgium and Nauru handed over their microphones to their sponsored contactors,” said DSCC coordinator, Sian Owen. “It is unacceptable for countries to cede their voice to corporate entities. Governments are expected to represent the broad interests of their entire citizenry. Corporate actors have much narrower private interests. We are seeking confirmation that Belgium stands behind Deme’s claims. If not, they must repudiate them”.

The ISA Council and Assembly meet again from 15-26 July 2019.

DSCC interventions (speeches) and presentations are available at http://www.savethehighseas.org/resources/publications/dscc-interventions-to-the-international-seabed-authority-for-the-25th-annual-session-in-february-2019/

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