The Deep Sea Mining Campaign (DSMC) is an association of NGOs and citizens from the Pacific Islands, Australia, Canada, and USA concerned about the likely impacts of DSM on marine and coastal ecosystems and communities.
The DSM campaign has a consistent focus on this emerging and very real threat to the world’s oceans. Our unique approach combines grassroots community development with regional policy interventions, and human rights and science-based advocacy. We work closely with partners in Papua New Guinea including the Bismarck Ramu Group and the Alliance of Solwara Warriors, which is made up of over 20 communities in the Bismarck and Solomon Seas.
The Deep Sea Mining campaign started in late 2011 in response to the frenzy of seabed exploration in the South Pacific. Approximately 1.5 million square kilometres of Pacific Ocean Floor is currently under exploration leasehold for deep seabed mining to private and national government companies within both territorial and international waters.
The world’s first licence to operate a deep sea mine has been granted in Papua New Guinea to Canadian company Nautilus Inc, while the South Pacific Commission is driving the development of a regional regulatory framework to enable DSM. Meanwhile, US-based military contractor Lockheed Martin is negotiating licenses for the exploration of polymetallic manganese nodules with the Fiji administration. The company’s UK subsidiary UK Seabed Resources has its eyes on similar nodules in international waters spanning 58,000 km2 between Hawaii and Mexico. According to the GEOMAR centre for ocean research in Germany, the ecological impact of mining nodules would be totally unacceptable with current technology.
How DSM occurs in the South Pacific will significantly influence how it is conducted in other parts of the world. The Indian Ocean, Red Sea and 58,000 km2 of international waters between Hawaii and Mexico are just a few of the other areas currently under exploration leasehold. New areas are being opened up to exploration almost monthly.
All of this activity is occurring in the absence of regulatory regimes or conservation areas to protect the unique and little-known ecosystems of the deep sea. Furthermore, scientific research into impacts is extremely limited and provides no assurance that the health of coastal communities and the fisheries on which they depend can be guaranteed.
Being a new form of mining there is a high level of uncertainty about the risks it poses to marine environments and communities. What is certain is that impacts will be associated with each step of the mining process. Neither Free Prior and Informed Consent from affected communities and the application of the Precautionary Principle has been adhered to in decision-making about DSM.
The Deep Sea Mining campaign, echoing communities and civil society across the Pacific, is calling for a BAN ON SEABED MINING.
The German Federation for Environment and Nature Conservation (BUND-Friends of the Earth Germany), a member of Seas At Risk, has also joined the call for a ban on seabed mining together with several other German NGOs (PowerShift, Fair Oceans, Brot für die Welt, MISEREOR, Stiftung Asienhaus, Forum Umwelt und Entwicklung).
Our campaign has produced comprehensive, scientifically based reports highlighting the uncertainties and likely impacts of the mining of hydrothermal vents that can be viewed and downloaded here.
In addition, we’ve produced fact sheets and community resources such as stickers and posters that can be viewed at our resources page.