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Prevent Harmful Seabed Mining by Passing Federal Legislation

Prevent Harmful Seabed Mining by Passing Federal Legislation

Surfrider is working to pass two federal bills to protect our ocean from harmful seabed mining.

The American Seabed Protection Act (H.R. 4537) would prohibit mineral extraction on the deep seabed and outer continental shelf within the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). It would also direct NOAA and the National Academies of Science to assess how mining activities could affect ocean species, carbon sequestration processes, and communities who depend on the ocean. The International Seabed Protection Act (H.R. 4536) would require the United States to oppose international seabed mining efforts until the President certifies that the ISA has adopted a suitable regulatory framework to guarantee protection for marine ecosystems and the communities who rely on them. Both bills were introduced by Rep. Ed Case from Hawaii's 1st District.

Seabed mineral extraction, or seabed mining as it's more commonly known, involves industrial-scale prospecting for metals and other minerals along the ocean floor. Such activity may damage habitats that nurture commercially and recreationally important fish. Seabed mining also creates sediment clouds that can smother or negatively impact the feeding and reproduction of other marine life, including plankton, groundfish, salmon, and forage fish. These sediment clouds, and associated noise, may also negatively impact whales, dolphins, and other marine mammals.

Our deep ocean and seabed are the last unexplored regions of our world, yet what we do know of them is that they are among our most intricate and fragile. Some of the oldest living coral species are found in the deep sea, and around one million marine species may inhabit the deep sea, a massive and interrelated complex of biodiversity seen nowhere else on the planet. In addition, the deep ocean is one of our planet’s largest and most important stores of carbon and likely plays a critical role in the fight against climate change.

It is imperative we protect our fragile, economically important, and culturally valuable oceans from the severe risks of seabed mining by imposing moratoria on mining unless and until its consequences are understood and an appropriate protective regulatory regime is established both within and beyond US national waters.

Surfrider is working with federal leaders, environmental groups and businesses to advance these bills in Congress. Please contact your representatives in the House and Senate in support of this important legislation!