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Deadlines and delays: What to expect from the next ISA meeting

After a multiple-month delay in response to the global pandemic, the International Seabed Authority is set to convene the second part of the 26th Session in Kingston Jamaica this December. While the format of the December meeting has not yet been announced, a previous postponement from July to October had the meeting substantially abridged compared […]

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The long life of plastic waste at an experimental mining site.

Not all scientific research begins with specific intent. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, as ocean scientists embarked on an ambitious plan to understand the potential impacts of deep-sea mining by simulating the disturbance caused by removing polymetallic nodules from the seafloor, they inadvertently seeded an entirely different experiment, which would ultimately provide insight […]

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What impact will deep-sea mining have on midwater habitats?

Jessica Perelman and Jesse van der Grient for the DSM Observer The ocean’s midwaters comprise the largest habitat on Earth and contribute significant ecosystem services including nutrient supply to surface waters and carbon transport, as well as support pelagic fisheries. But midwaters (generally defined as the pelagic ocean below 200 meters depth) also remain one […]

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A 3-decade-long disturbance study on the deep abyssal plain.

In the late 1980s, as the first wave of deep-sea mining exploration approached a decade of hibernation, researchers launched an ambitious experiment to understand the long-term environmental impact of harvesting polymetallic nodules from the abyssal plain. The Disturbance and recolonization experiment in a manganese nodule area of the deep South Pacific (DISCOL) remains the most […]

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The deep-sea mining community adapts to the new normal under coronavirus restrictions.

Maria Bolevich for DSM Observer The coronavirus pandemic is changing the world in dramatic and subtle ways, exacting a toll measured both in lost lives and economic uncertainty. Deep-sea mining has been in development for over 50 years and now, at the moment in which negotiations were poised to transition the industry from exploration to […]

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Finding Balance among Stakeholders: An Interview with Dr. Malcolm Clark

Maria Bolevich for DSM Observer Dr. Malcolm R. Clark is a principal scientist at the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research in Wellington, New Zealand, he began his career in the 1980s. “My career started with fisheries stock assessment, and evolved through studying the diversity of deep-sea life and how it is impacted by […]

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Greenpeace organized a peaceful demonstration on the protection of the ocean outside the headquarters of the ISA. Photo ENB.

From the Editor: Big moves at the second part of the 25th Session of the International Seabed Authority

Last week saw the conclusion of the 25th Session of the International Seabed Authority. Though much progress was made, significant work still lies ahead to meet to self-imposed 2020 deadline for implementing the draft exploitation regulations. As always, the Earth Negotiations Bulletin has provided a comprehensive summary of the overall meeting as well as day-to-day […]

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A big-hearted iron snail is the first deep-sea species to be declared endangered due to seabed mining.

In 2001, on an expedition to hydrothermal vent fields in the Indian Ocean, researchers made a bizarre discovery. Clustered in small aggregations around the base of a black smoker was an unusual snail, seemingly clad in a suit of armor. Rather than a single, hard, calcareous structure, the snail’s operculum was covered in a series […]

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26 years after experimental mining, a seabed ecosystem has yet to recover

In 1989, the largest attempt to model the impacts of a deep-sea mining operation was conducted across 1100 hectares of seafloor in the Peru Basin. The Disturbance and Recolonization Experiment (DISCOL) simulated polymetallic nodule extraction by dragging an 8-meter plough-harrow across a nodule field, creating 78 troughs that mimicked one likely consequence of dragging a […]

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