Ecological aspects of deep-sea mining
The JPI Oceans action 'Ecological aspects of deep-sea mining' aims at assessing the long-term impacts of polymetallic nodule mining on the deep-sea environment. Core of the action is the research project ‘MiningImpact’ which conducted three marine research campaigns in 2015 on the RV Sonne visiting several license areas and two Areas of Particular Environmental Interest (APEIs) in the Clarion-Clipperton Zone (CCZ) as well as the DISCOL benthic impact experiment in the Peru Basin.
- Predicting the ecological, biogeochemical and hydrodynamic consequences of a mining impact.
- Testing a range of modern rapid assessment methods and monitoring techniques for defining the ecosystem status.
- Communicating the results to stakeholders and policymakers.
- Conducting a comparative baseline study across different deep-sea environments (e.g. trophic states and seamounts)
The action and its research project 'MiningImpact' are expected to improve our understanding of deep-sea ecosystems and the impact of mining thereon. The project has not only attracted interest from the the G7 Science Ministers in their Communiqué from October 2015, but it is also delivering input into the development of the international Mining Code (set of regulations for the exploitation of polymetallic nodules in the deep seabed beyond the limits of national jurisdiction), which the International Seabed Authority is in the process of negotiating. At the 22nd Session of the Authority in July 2016, MiningImpact presented these results in order to ensure that the international deep sea mining regime is built on a solid scientific basis and the best available knowledge.
Scientists involved in the project also published the results from the recent research campaign in Nature, demonstrating that polymetallic nodule fields are hotspots of abundance and diversity for a highly vulnerable abyssal fauna.