August 14, 2019

Funding the Ocean Newsletter – August 2019

News Source: Funding the Ocean

Author(s): Supriya Kumar

If you’ve been keeping up with ocean conservation news, you’ve likely been tuning in to the recent conversations around deep-sea mining. Put simply, our growing technological needs are putting a strain on the supply of rare metals, and countries are starting to look for mining opportunities in the ocean to meet the growing demand.

We are all too familiar about the huge environmental costs that mining on land has caused, and environmentalists fear deep-sea mining could bring equally damaging effects to marine habitats and life. In fact, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has already added the scaly-foot snail to its Red List of Threatened Species because their habitat faces potential threats from deep-sea mining activities. Is it worth the environmental cost?

The plot thickens when we consider that to combat climate change, we have been increasingly relying on clean energy solutions powered by batteries which rely heaving on rare metals—rare metals that could possibly be sourced from the depths of the ocean floor.

While many of us might like to avoid the dangers of deep ocean mining explorations altogether, the fact of the matter is that the International Seabed Authority has already issued 29 exploration licenses. This means that it is inevitable that deep-sea mining activities are in our future.

If done with care, deep-sea mining could help us tackle climate change, but let us not get carried away with the potential benefit and inadvertently cause more harm to our ocean. Hopefully the ISA will continue to regulate this fledgling industry, keeping environmental protection a priority.

Be sure to check out the Funding Map, to see who is supporting research and other efforts to address the negative impacts of deep-sea mining, among other issues. And as always, e-mail us at or tweet using #FundtheOcean to share any exciting news, events, or solutions.

Supriya Kumar

In Deep Water: The Emerging Threat of Deep Sea Mining

The ocean is facing more threats now than at any time in history. Yet a nascent industry is ramping up to exert more pressure on marine life: deep-sea mining. A handful of governments and companies have been granted licenses to explore for deep-sea mining in ecologically sensitive waters, and the industry is positioning its development as inevitable, but deep-sea mining isn't happening anywhere in the global oceans – yet. Opening a new industrial frontier in the largest ecosystem on Earth and undermining an important carbon sink carries significant environmental risks, especially in light of the biodiversity and climate crises facing the natural world and specifically our ocean.

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Scientists Fear Impact of Deep-Sea Mining on Search for New Medicines

The deep sea, more than half the world’s surface, contains more nickel, cobalt and rare earth metals than all land reserves combined, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Mining corporations argue that deep-sea exploration could help diversify the supply of metals, including cobalt for electric car batteries, presently mined in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where child labor is common. But many fear this is moving too fast. Mining could devastate fragile ecosystems that are slow to recover in the highly pressurized darkness of the deep sea, as well as having knock-on effects on the wider ocean environment. Critics have called for a 10-year ban on commercial deep-sea mining.

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Deep Sea Mining Campaign

The Deep Sea Mining Campaign (DSMC) is an association of NGOs and citizens from the Pacific Islands, Australia, Canada, and the U.S. concerned about the likely impacts of deep-sea mining on marine and coastal ecosystems and communities. The campaign has produced comprehensive, scientifically based reports highlighting the uncertainties and likely impacts of the mining of hydrothermal vents as well as fact sheets and community resources such as stickers and posters that can be viewed on their resources page.

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Deep Sea Conservation Coalition

The Deep Sea Conservation Coalition (DSCC) was founded in 2004 to address the issue of bottom trawling on the high seas, in the absence of an effective regime for the management of deep-sea fisheries on the high seas and in response to international concerns over the harmful impacts of deep-sea bottom trawling. Working with scientists, NGOs, intergovernmental organizations and numerous governments, the DSCC has effectively and consistently targeted the United Nations General Assembly and other international fora to call for action.

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