Updated: Jan 11, 2021
Deep-sea mining is the collection of mineral deposits from the area of the ocean below 200m, which covers roughly 65% of the Earth’s surface. Scraping the ocean floor in this way can totally destroy precious deep-sea habitats, leading to the loss of species and devastating damage to ecosystems. Many species living in the deep sea are endemic, which means they are not found anywhere else on the planet. The disturbances caused by mining in just one site have the potential to wipe out an entire species. Species such as whales and sharks could be affected by vibrations, noise and light pollution caused by the equipment, as well as the potential of toxic leaks causing further issues.
The world’s oceans are vital. They act as an extremely important habitat for biodiversity and play a key role in absorbing carbon, helping to regulate the Earth’s climate. The UK is a leader in ocean protection as the founder of the Global Oceans Alliance. However, the UK’s words are unfortunately undermined by their actions through the exploitation of the seas. Whilst saying it recognises the importance of our oceans, the UK is exploring deep-sea mining over a wider area than any other country. Made only worse by the fact it is doing so through its sponsorship of UK Seabed Resources Ltd, a company owned by US weapons manufacturer Lockheed Martin. While promising the protection of our oceans, the UK Government is using the knowledge of a weapons company to explore the seas for further resources to extract.
UK Youth 4 Nature asks that in 2021 a public consultation is run on the UK’s approach to the High Seas. They wish to be provided with the Environmental Impact Assessment the government has carried out to arrive at the conclusion that continued deep-sea mining will not cause irreparable damage. The availability of this information seems highly necessary during such an important year for the natural world. The UK should immediately stop its mining exploration through UK Seabed Resources Ltd, and should instead push for a Global Oceans Treaty that excludes deep-sea mining from the high seas. This will ensure the longevity of our oceans to combat climate change and act as a healthy habitat for nature to thrive.
By Tilly Hopkins