Reports and statements Environment

Deep-Sea Mining: assessing evidence on future needs and environmental impacts

The International Seabed Authority (ISA) organises and controls activities related to mineral resources in ‘the Area’ (defined as the seabed, ocean floor, and subsoil beyond the limits of national jurisdiction). The ISA has awarded exploration contracts for minerals in the Area since 2001 and is now developing a mining code for exploitation. While the ISA has the mandate to ensure the effective protection of the marine environment from harmful effects that may arise from mining activities, there is debate about the level of harm that might be caused by mining and whether the draft regulations are robust enough to meet that mandate and provide effective control. Several European countries are sponsors of mining contracts with the ISA and Norway is planning to exploit minerals within its own exclusive economic zone and extended continental shelf.

Policy-makers must thus assess whether economic pressures to extract minerals from the deep sea are compatible with the protection of marine ecosystems and their biodiversity. To inform current debate in the European Union and more broadly, the European Academies’ Science Advisory Council (EASAC) has assessed the implications of the latest science and issued this Statement.

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