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 and flora. Hydrothermal vents gush mineral-rich waters that support communities of deep-sea organisms. Unusual animals, many of which have yet to be identified, roam these surreal landscapes.
But 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 (ISA), established in 1994 under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, is developing rules for seabed mining in areas beyond national jurisdiction.
As the ISA is crafting a code to govern mining in these areas, should it go forward, Pew is advocating for rules to protect the deep ocean’s sensitive ecosystems. Deep sea mining should not happen unless and until countries can establish strong and enforceable environmental safeguards to ensure the effective protection of the marine environment.