This week, delegates from around the world are meeting at the United Nations for the first UN Oceans Conference, to discuss the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14: the conservation of oceans, seas and marine resources.
We are subjecting our oceans to a barrage of assaults, many of which we are all familiar with - rising temperatures, overfishing, acidification. Less well-known are the dual threats to oceans from mining: the ongoing pollution of marine ecosystems by mine waste and the irreversible harm to deep-sea ecosystems that would result from proposed deep-seabed mining.
For the mining industry, technological advances have made the world’s oceans the new frontier. Both companies and governments have started exploration and even tout deep-sea mining as a safer alternative to the problems caused by mineral extraction. But they do so in the absence of any scientific consensus on the long-term impacts of deep-sea mining.
The mining industry has set its sights on a new frontier – the deep sea. Seabed or deep-sea mining involves extracting minerals from hydrothermal vents, manganese nodules and cobalt crusts on the ocean’s floor. In just the past five years, the number of seabed mining permits granted by the International Seabed Authority has tripled, to a total of 26 – and counting. But while permits are granted at a rapid clip, we still have too little understanding of deep-sea mining’s ultimate impacts.
We recommend that where there is clear evidence that FPIC and broad support for DSM has been obtained that the ISA require the establishment of Citizen Advisory Councils CACs) for projects within the Area and facilitate the establishment of CACs in national waters.
Yesterday, I attended a hearing in the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Minerals. They were reviewing a small package of bills that are part of a broader effort by the House majority to highlight the mining industry’s impact on job creation.
This second installment included a discussion of HR 2803, which is a bill instructing the Interior Department to conduct a study exploring the feasibility of drilling for minerals in the shallow and deep sea beds of the United States. The bill is offered by Delegate Faleomavaega of American Samoa and is intended to potentially facilitate the exploration of mineral resources in places like Puerto Rico, Guam, the Virgin Islands, and other American territories.
I am generally in favor of study...