Legislative reform needed to protect oceans from seafloor mining

CSIRO_SulfideChimney_72b.jpgThe Wealth from Oceans Flagship at the Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) released a new report on seafloor mining Friday. The story follows on the heels of controversy about the environmental impacts of seafloor mining. Australia’s EEZ is rich in submerged minerals.

According to the project leader, CSIRO’s Dr Joanna Parr, the message from industry, the scientific community, governments and the social sector is clear: “This is an exciting and challenging field. All parties realise that much work would be needed to build a socially, environmentally and economically acceptable foundation on which to develop seafloor exploration and mining operations in Australia.”

The Marine Campaign Coordinator of … Australian Conservation Foundation, Chris Smyth, says knowledge and capacity building, community engagement, institutional and legislative reform are essential if Australia is to adequately protect its oceans and ensure their ecologically sustainable use. “If our governments fail to deliver on these, then the future of Australia’s oceans is grim”.

A copy of the report called “Exploring the social dimensions of Australia’s seafloor exploration and mining industry” is available at CSIRO website here.

Dr. M (1755 Posts)

Craig McClain is the Executive Director of the Lousiana University Marine Consortium. He has conducted deep-sea research for 20 years and published over 50 papers in the area. He has participated in and led dozens of oceanographic expeditions taken him to the Antarctic and the most remote regions of the Pacific and Atlantic. Craig’s research focuses on how energy drives the biology of marine invertebrates from individuals to ecosystems, specifically, seeking to uncover how organisms are adapted to different levels of carbon availability, i.e. food, and how this determines the kinds and number of species in different parts of the oceans. Additionally, Craig is obsessed with the size of things. Sometimes this translated into actually scientific research. Craig’s research has been featured on National Public Radio, Discovery Channel, Fox News, National Geographic and ABC News. In addition to his scientific research, Craig also advocates the need for scientists to connect with the public and is the founder and chief editor of the acclaimed Deep-Sea News (http://deepseanews.com/), a popular ocean-themed blog that has won numerous awards. His writing has been featured in Cosmos, Science Illustrated, American Scientist, Wired, Mental Floss, and the Open Lab: The Best Science Writing on the Web.


4 comments on “Legislative reform needed to protect oceans from seafloor mining
  1. Thanks for the link to the CSIRO report, I hadnt seen that yet.

    The Marine Campaign Coordinator of … Australian Conservation Foundation, Chris Smyth, says knowledge and capacity building, community engagement, institutional and legislative reform are essential if Australia is to adequately protect its oceans and ensure their ecologically sustainable use. “If our governments fail to deliver on these, then the future of Australia’s oceans is grim”.

    That sounds like a standard quote from the ACF whenever someone asks them about marine conservation.

    Basically the issue as I see it is that the Australian Govt is determined to mine every last mineral within Australia’s borders. That already includes a ridiculously intensive oil industry based off the coast of the Kimberley in Western Australia (see my blog post here) and now seems to include mining the seafloor. I have another post about that here (please excuse the blatant blog promotion).

    Australian environmental legislation is completely misconfigured to protect marine ecosystems and little political will exists to change that legislation at the moment. Industry voices are heard much more clearly by politicians that the voices of concerned constituents.

    ACF, WWF and other conservation groups need to urgently increase the volume of the debate about whether this is a good thing or not. They currently seem to be more concerned about fund raising and not squandering political capital by getting too involved with contentious issues.

  2. Thanks for the link to the CSIRO report, I hadnt seen that yet.

    The Marine Campaign Coordinator of … Australian Conservation Foundation, Chris Smyth, says knowledge and capacity building, community engagement, institutional and legislative reform are essential if Australia is to adequately protect its oceans and ensure their ecologically sustainable use. “If our governments fail to deliver on these, then the future of Australia’s oceans is grim”.

    That sounds like a standard quote from the ACF whenever someone asks them about marine conservation.

    Basically the issue as I see it is that the Australian Govt is determined to mine every last mineral within Australia’s borders. That already includes a ridiculously intensive oil industry based off the coast of the Kimberley in Western Australia (see my blog post here) and now seems to include mining the seafloor. I have another post about that here (please excuse the blatant blog promotion).

    Australian environmental legislation is completely misconfigured to protect marine ecosystems and little political will exists to change that legislation at the moment. Industry voices are heard much more clearly by politicians that the voices of concerned constituents.

    ACF, WWF and other conservation groups need to urgently increase the volume of the debate about whether this is a good thing or not. They currently seem to be more concerned about fund raising and not squandering political capital by getting too involved with contentious issues.

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