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Contacts:
Pete Stauffer, Surfrider Foundation, pstauffer@surfrider.org 503-887-0514
Emerson Brown, Monterey Bay Aquarium, ebrown@mbayaq.org, 831-647-6856
Matthew Dumlao, Office of the Lieutenant Governor, Matthew.Dumlao@ltg.ca.gov 
Annel Lopez, Assemblywoman Luz Rivas, Annel.Lopez@asm.ca.gov

California Legislature Sends Governor Newsom Legislation to Prevent Seabed Mining in State Waters

Assembly Bill 1832 will protect California’s ocean from the harmful practice of seabed mining

Sacramento, Calif., August 26, 2022 - On Thursday, the California legislature sent Governor Newsom legislation to ban seabed mining in state marine waters with unanimous, bipartisan votes in both the Senate (39-0) and Assembly (74-0). 

Assembly Bill 1832, authored by Assemblywoman Luz Rivas (D-San Fernando Valley), managed in the Senate by State Senator John Laird (D-Santa Cruz), and co-sponsored by the Surfrider Foundation, Monterey Bay Aquarium and Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis, prevents seabed mining by removing the authority of the State Lands Commission to issue leases for the extraction of hard minerals in California’s ocean waters. Dozens of environmental protection organizations and businesses and the State Lands Commission support AB 1832.

“I am proud to see the support AB 1832 has received from scientists, environmental organizations, and bi-partisan state leaders. Together, we were able to pass legislation preventing the exploitation of our ocean’s resources while protecting our ocean’s diverse marine life for future generations. This is a monumental victory,” stated Assemblywoman Rivas. “I would like to thank our co-sponsors including Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis, Surfrider Foundation, and Monterey Bay Aquarium for their tenacity in advocating for this legislation. If signed into law, California will join its Pacific Northwest neighbors in seabed mining prevention. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to proactively protect our ocean.”

“As a proud co-sponsor and a member of the State Lands Commission, I am so thankful that the Legislature just passed AB 1832,” said Lieutenant Governor Kounalakis. “The Legislature is sending a clear message that protecting our seabed is critical to the health of our oceans, not just for California but for the world.”

“As a long-time oceans advocate and champion of Marine Protected Areas, I was glad to be a part of banning seabed mining off the coast of California,” said Senator Laird. “Protecting and improving the health of our oceans is crucial for marine life and the overall ecosystem, and this common-sense measure helps meet those goals.”

“The Seabed Mining Prevention Act is a forward-thinking bill that will protect California’s interconnected coastal and ocean environment, the associated recreation and tourism economy, and the culture and economic well-being of our state,” said the Surfrider Foundation’s CEO, Dr. Chad Nelsen. “Surfrider greatly appreciates Asm. Luz Rivas' leadership on this legislation and urges Governor Newsom to sign the bill into law.” 

“California’s living ocean resources are unparalleled and so vital to our well-being. The state has, for decades, led the way in environmental protection.” said Julie Packard, executive director of Monterey Bay Aquarium. “All of us at Monterey Bay Aquarium are deeply grateful for Assemblymember Luz Rivas’ leadership and the unanimous and bipartisan support of the Legislature. We urge Governor Newsom to sign this bill into law. The risks of damage are too great, which is why the Aquarium supports a global moratorium on seabed mining until we better understand and mitigate the impacts that seabed mining could have on ocean life and ecosystems.”

California is poised to join Oregon and Washington as West Coast states that have banned seabed mining in their waters. California’s leadership comes as nations around the world are seeking to implement proactive measures to prevent harmful seabed mining. A global movement is coalescing as more than 650 scientists, as well as governments, tribal members, businesses and individuals from around the world have signed onto calls for a global moratorium on seabed mining. It’s notable that there is no formal opposition to AB 1832.

Mining the nearshore seafloor along the U.S. West Coast could cause significant damage to marine and coastal habitats, commercial and recreational fisheries, marine wildlife, and the communities and tribal nations that depend on them, according to The Pew Charitable Trusts. Also at risk are the breathtaking beaches, tide pools, and rocky shorelines that help support a multi-billion dollar recreation and tourism industry. By preventing this harmful activity before it starts, the West Coast is a model for other regions that are hoping to avoid the possible consequences of seabed mining.

Industrial-scale prospecting for metals and other minerals along the ocean floor is increasing worldwide. Seabed mineral extraction, which includes dredging and other destructive techniques, could additionally affect kelp forests and other marine 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, tuna, billfish, and forage species. These sediment clouds, and associated noise, may negatively impact whales, dolphins, and other marine mammals.

California’s waters do not represent a marketable source for battery metals, which is a common justification for expanding mining operations into the ocean. Technological innovation in various locations, including California, is starting to move away from minerals such as cobalt and nickel that seabed mining companies are interested in extracting for this purpose. Further, the recycling and re-use of battery metals is also increasing thanks to leadership from both governments and industry.   

Governor Newsom has until September 30 to sign or veto Assembly Bill 1832.

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About the Surfrider Foundation

The Surfrider Foundation is a nonprofit grassroots organization dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of our world’s ocean, waves and beaches for all people through a powerful activist network. Founded in 1984 by a handful of visionary surfers in Malibu, California, the Surfrider Foundation now maintains over one million supporters, activists and members, with more than 200 volunteer-led chapters and student clubs in the U.S., and more than 800 victories protecting our coasts. Learn more at surfrider.org.

About the Monterey Bay Aquarium 

With a mission to inspire conservation of the ocean, the Monterey Bay Aquarium is the most admired Aquarium in the United States, a leader in science education, and a voice for ocean conservation through comprehensive programs in marine science and public policy. Everything we do works in concert to protect the future of our blue planet.