Warning Over Deep-Sea ‘Gold Rush’
New research highlights the urgent need for coherent, effective policy to safeguard the marine environment from a “gold rush” of seabed mining, which researchers warn could lead to unprecedented damage to fragile deep-sea ecosystems.
With major decisions on the future of seabed mining expected in 2019-20, scientists and policy experts from the University of Exeter, Greenpeace Research Laboratories and Globelaw have recommended a range of measures to prevent environmental damage.
They argue that mining in the deep sea (depths below 200m) could be avoided altogether if humanity moved towards a “circular economy” that focuses on reuse and recycling of metals, reduces overconsumption and limits built-in obsolescence of technology.
“This ‘gold rush’ is being driven by our ever-growing demand for minerals,” said Dr David Santillo, a marine biologist and senior Greenpeace scientist based at the University of Exeter. “Should we allow seabed mining – with the risk it poses to deep-sea ecosystems – or should we focus instead on reducing this demand for virgin minerals?”
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