Offshore mining, extinction of hundreds of species

Nearly two-thirds of the hundreds of mollusc species that live on the seabed are at risk of extinction, according to a new study that sounds another alarm about the impact of deep-sea mining on biodiversity.

The research, led by Queen’s University in Belfast, led to the addition of 184 species of molluscs that live around hydrothermal vents. World Red List of Threatened Species , compiled by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). While the researchers only studied endemic molluscs from springs (hot springs on the ocean floor), they said they would expect similar extinction risks for crustaceans or any other species that depended on sources.

More than 80% of the oceans remain unknown, unobserved or unexplored, and there is growing opposition to offshore mining from governments, civil society groups and scientists, who say that biodiversity loss is inevitable and likely permanent if it continues. . .

“The species we studied are highly dependent on the unique ecosystem of hydrothermal vents for their survival,” said Elin Thomas, principal investigator. “If offshore mining companies want all the metals that form in the vents, they would remove all the habitat that the vents come from. But species have nowhere to go. “

The International Seabed Authority (ISA), a UN body, will meet in Kingston, Jamaica, to agree on a route to finalize regulations by July 2023 that would allow undersea mining of cobalt, nickel and other metals.

There are at least 600 known hydrothermal vents around the world, at depths of 2,000 to 4,000 meters, and each is about a third the size of a football field. They act like natural tube systems, transporting heat and chemicals from inside the Earth in huge geysers, and they also help regulate the chemistry of the oceans. In doing so, vast and valuable mineral deposits build up in the cracks. Their heat, at the bottom of the cold sea, also makes them biodiversity hotspots, similar to coral reefs or rainforests.

Read Also:  Climbing the Climate Crisis: 1.5°C to Disaster

The article was published in Frontiers in Marine Science and was supported by the Marine Institute of Ireland. Scientists examined the regulatory framework and regional management objectives at each location, as well as mining permits.

Of the 184 species assessed, 62% are listed as threatened, many in the territorial waters of countries that have granted offshore mining licenses, such as Japan and Papua New Guinea. Only 25 species are fully protected from offshore mining through local conservation measures, such as in the Azores and Mexico.

The threat of extinction was worst in the Indian Ocean, where all species were listed as threatened and 60% as critically endangered, and where the ISA issued many mineral exploration licenses.

By Karen McVeigh. Article in English

Recent Articles

Related News

Leave A Reply

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here