Environmental Planning for Mining in the Seabed Area Beyond National Jurisdiction

Sunday, 16 February 2014
Columbus EF (Hyatt Regency Chicago)
Cindy Lee Van Dover , Duke University Marine Laboratory, Beaufort, NC
There is greatly accelerated interest in deep seabed mining within and beyond national jurisdiction.  This interest extends to mineral types (seafloor massive sulfides, polymetallic sulfides, cobalt crusts) and habitats (e.g., hydrothermal vents, seamounts, abyssal plain) in all ocean basins.  The seabed area beyond national jurisdiction is governed by the International Seabed Authority (ISA), where a strategic and holistic vision for environmental planning is emergent.  This planning must balance future mineral extraction with a sustainable, productive, and healthy marine environment.  Elements of this strategy go beyond current ISA requirements, and include the need for regional-scale planning for specific mineral resources as well as consideration of cumulative impacts to biodiversity and ecosystem services, enhanced cooperation by exploration contractors on environmental studies, economic incentives for green industry practices, management of resource use conflicts, development of new technologies to serve environmental management, and a research agenda for actionable science.  These elements of environmental management for deep-sea mining activities largely lie beyond what can be addressed through individual contractors; there is an important role for a multi-stakeholder approach, including science and industry, to ensure environmental planning in the deep sea is progressive and effective.