High & Deep Seas
Deep-sea ecosystems are one of the last great unexplored wildernesses on our planet. While technology has recently allowed us to discover much more about this realm, our lack of knowledge is one reason why it is so vulnerable. One of the biggest looming threats to these ecosystems is deep-seabed mining.
We simply do not know what we stand to lose if deep-seabed mining goes ahead at any great scale. This fledgling industry has the potential to permanently destroy highly vulnerable and globally important deep-sea habitats which have to this point been left untouched.
Synchronicity Earth works to strengthen protections, advocate and develop public awareness of the issues by:
Supporting work to increase the effectiveness, accountability and transparency of the International Seabed Authority.
There is a lack of effective governance mechanisms in place to regulate deep-seabed mining, so strong action from both the scientific and NGO communities is essential in order to hold governing bodies and industry to account and protect the biodiversity of the deep sea.
Supporting local groups to campaign against deep-seabed mining in national waters.
Progress towards implementation of mining projects is happening much faster in national waters than in international ones. The waters around Papua New Guinea, New Zealand and Japan have seen most activity. Local campaigns in Papua New Guinea are bringing global attention to the deep-seabed mining industry and helping to hold it to account.
Building public awareness and encouraging debate around the necessity for and impact of deep-seabed mining.
Up to now, the industry has had very little public attention so it is important to show the International Seabed Authority the the world is watching and cares about what happens to these vulnerable and important deep-sea ecosystems.
* Images (L to R): NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research; Bismarck Ramu Group; ActNOW PNG
“We’re still learning about how important the deep ocean is for life on Earth. It’s really the beating lungs and the beating heart of our planet. The species there provide us with services that we’re only just starting to understand, in terms of absorbing carbon, releasing oxygen, absorbing heat – the deep is doing us a huge favour by absorbing a lot of the heat in the atmosphere at the moment, so there’s a lot going on down there. It may be distant from all of us, but it is in our daily lives and I think it’s going to be increasingly so in future.”
Helen Scales, Marine Biologist, author and broadcaster
Holding big business to account
Partner Profile: Bismarck Ramu Group
Bismarck Ramu Group (BRG) has a track record of effectively influencing government and industry action to achieve impressive steps for biodiversity conservation. Papua New Guinea is the site of the world’s first proposed site for experimental seabed mining. BRG is one of very few local groups standing up to deep-sea mining, and their opposition to it in Papua New Guinea could play a pivotal role in preventing its proliferation in other parts of the deep sea. Among other things, BRG campaigns to ensure that any future exploration is put on hold until we fully understand all possible social and environmental impacts. The experimental seabed mining project currently appears to be on hold. It is still unclear how much this has to do with the company running out of money and how much it might be trying to keep a low profile. Loud civil society campaigns from BRG and others have played a key role in deterring investors.
Image © Bismarck Ramu Group
“Arguably the least policed realm on the planet, the sea bottom is also a world over which scientists, conservationists, industry, and governments routinely tussle for access and control. And yet we have mapped more of the night sky than we have charted the ocean’s depths. Lawlessness on the high seas may be rampant, but deep underwater there are immense voids – literal and legal.”
Ian Urbina, Journalist and author of The Outlaw Ocean