The cold, dark waters of the deep sea once were thought to be largely void of life, but scientists now know that the opposite is true.
Underwater mountain chains teem with fish, corals, and other fauna. Hydrothermal vents gush mineral-rich waters that support communities of deep-sea organisms. Vast plains, once thought to be ecological deserts, boast significant biodiversity and remain one of the last intact wildernesses on our planet. Unusual animals, the majority of which have yet to be identified, roam these surreal landscapes.
However, the deep ocean faces threats as governments and companies position themselves to mine mineral deposits on (or beneath) the deep seabed, more than half of which lies beyond national jurisdiction. History suggests that unregulated exploitation of this environment could have disastrous effects. Many deep-sea organisms are extremely slow growing and may take centuries to recover from damage, if they come back at all.
The International Seabed Authority, established in 1994 under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, is developing rules to regulate seabed mining activities in areas beyond national jurisdiction.
Deep seabed mining should not take place unless we have the scientific knowledge in place to ensure robust protection of the deep ocean’s sensitive ecosystems and the resources they provide. Pew is advocating for strong and enforceable environmental safeguards to ensure the effective protection of this marine environment.