July 17, 2015

Story: Balancing Mining and Deep Seabed Protections

The Center for Ocean Solutions, along with leading co-authors from around the world, recently published a report in the journal Science entitled, “Managing mining in the deep seabed.” The publication coincided with a meeting of the International Seabed Authority (ISA) to determine a regulatory framework for mining in the deep-sea floor.  In the report, researchers recommended that the ISA establish a network of no-mining Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) before additional mining claims are granted on the deep seabed. They argue that MPAs would not only help protect the fragile ecosystem of the deep seabed, but would also provide more economic certainty for the mining industry.

The timing of the Science publication generated tremendous media coverage from around the world.  One of the co-authors, Kristina Gjerde, an international lawyer and high seas advisor to the IUCN, attended the ISA meeting in Kingston, Jamaica where she distributed copies of the publication.  In her report out from the ISA meeting, Gjerde indicated that the paper “was distributed by the ISA secretariat to the ISA Legal and Technical Commission (LTC) the day it was published and was noted with appreciation. One LTC member thanked us for highlighting the issues and making it clear the outside world was watching.”

Relicanthus sp.—a new species from a new order of Cnidaria collected  at 4,100 meters in the Clarion-Clipperton Fracture Zone (CCZ)  that lives on sponge stalks attached to nodules. Credit: Craig Smith and Diva Amon, ABYSSLINE Project.

In a later dispatch from the ISA meeting, Gjerde reported the following: “You will be happy to know that the priority deliverables for the development of the exploitation code over the next 12-18 months… reflect our main article recommendations that the ISA develop… a strategy for strategic (regional) environmental management plans, building on its experience with the establishment of an environmental management plan for the Clarion Clipperton Zone,” {which includes a network of no-mining MPAs}.

“Our timing with this paper was impeccable,” said Dr. Larry Crowder, science director for the Center for Ocean Solutions. “I’m proud of the role COS and our partner organizations played in encouraging a generally positive outcome at the ISA meetings in Jamaica.”