Deep-sea mining: regulating the unknown

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Venting fumeroles just from the crown of Godzilla hydrothermal vent. Ocean Networks Canada.
Venting fumeroles just from the crown of Godzilla hydrothermal vent. Ocean Networks Canada.

Amber Cobley for The Ecologist | 15 March 2019

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.

Within the next decade, the deep-sea mining industry plans to send 300-tonne vehicles to harvest tens of thousands km2 of deep seafloor for minerals considered vital to the future of green technology. But these hard mineral resources are also home to fragile and diverse ecosystems, some new to science and some yet to be found. 

Read more: Deep-sea mining: regulating the unknown.