On April 23 and June 18, 2020, The Pew Charitable Trusts submitted letters encouraging the California State Lands Commission, the agency with jurisdiction over minerals on and under the seafloor, to close the state’s waters to seabed mining to protect commercial and recreational fishing and the economic and environmental wellbeing of coastal communities.
In the U.S., industry interest in nearshore seabed mining has rapidly emerged over the past decade, spurred by the depletion of terrestrial mineral sources, technological advances, and growing demand for hard minerals, such as phosphorite, as well as metal-rich sands and precious metals, including gold and platinum. But seabed mining in coastal waters presents serious threats to ocean health, potentially decimating fish stocks and compromising coastal economies.
California is not currently facing a push to mine off its coasts, which makes now the ideal time to upgrade the existing regulatory structure for prospecting and extraction with better protections for the state’s nearshore seafloor.
Pew urges the commission to make regulatory reform a priority as it develops its 2021-25 strategic plan.