DEEP SEA DESTRUCTION
Countries are delving deeper into the ocean to explore its mineral wealth. The deposits on the ocean floor are enormous and the ecology of this largest habitat on earth, unexplored. The high seas are also global common property that demand an equitable di
Countries are disrupting marine ecology by delving deeper into the oceans for minerals
DEEP INSIDE the ocean is a world as vibrant and rich as the one outside. There are mountain ranges, ridges, forests, seamounts, volcanoes and a unique ecology that defies common knowledge. For example, life here thrives without sunlight. This barely explored territory is also believed to hold vast quantities of precious metals and minerals that can sustain the modern world for centuries.
So when the International Seabed Authority (isa) issued seven new licences in the last week of July to explore for the riches that lie on the floors of the Pacific, Indian and Atlantic oceans, it sent ripples across the world. The UN body regulates exploitation of the ocean floor beyond 370-kilometre territorial limits to prevent a free-for-all. Several governments and the mining industry who have their eyes on the underwater riches hailed the announcement, while scientists and environmentalists raised concerns about venturing into this unknown territory.
Both state-owned and government-sponsored companies from India, France, Russia, Germany, China, Singapore and the UK had sought permission for minerals prospecting in the high seas. Four licences have been granted for the Pacific Ocean—the Clarion Clipperton Zone between Hawaii and Mexico and the Magellan Seamount in the northwest Pacific. Two licences are for the Indian Ocean Ridge, while one for Rio Grande Rise in the southern Atlantic. These are significant chunks of seabed.One UK Seabed Resources, an English subsidiary of the US defence giant Lockheed Martin, has secured exploration rights to an area larger than the entire UK.
By now the isa has opened up a vast 1.2 million square