Deep-sea mining is at the transition from exploration to commercial exploitation. The deep sea remains poorly explored and potential impacts of deep sea mining on the marine environment are believed to be immense. OceanCare is therefore launching its new program on deep-sea mining with a substantive focus on underwater noise.

Although various risks to the marine environment posed by deep-sea mining are well known, it is feared that the step to exploitation is imminent.

Increasing demand for raw materials, the development of new business areas and geopolitical considerations could lead to the exploitation of the deep sea. OceanCare’s program on deep-sea mining aims to ensure that the environmental risks of deep-sea mining are comprehensively researched and that global, binding and comprehensive regulations are established to protect the marine environment from the negative impacts of deep-sea mining. Deep-sea mining should only be carried out if it is actually necessary and can be done in an environmentally sound manner. The development as well as the mining of mineral resources in the deep sea should be abandoned as long as these issues are not clarified. Therefore, OceanCare joins the call of numerous scientists and non-governmental organizations for a moratorium. Political decision makers (including the European Parliament and the European Commission) are also starting to call for such a moratorium.

Based on its expertise and experience in the field of underwater noise, OceanCare is focusing on raising awareness among relevant decision-makers about the impacts of underwater noise and working to ensure that regulations on deep-sea mining include binding and detailed provisions to avoid and minimize underwater noise.

The deep sea is a dark habitat where acoustics are likely to play a very large role for the creatures living there. This sensitive habitat is already under pressure from a variety of human-induced factors (including the effects of global warming, plastic debris, and bottom trawling), so further stressors should be avoided at all costs. In addition, noise emissions from deep-sea mining can be expected along the entire water column, including the water surface. The negative effects of underwater noise on living organisms in higher water layers have been scientifically documented many times.