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Deep Dive Dilemma: The Impact of Deep Sea Mining on Ocean Floors

India aims to expand its undersea exploration for valuable metals crucial for renewable energy, despite concerns raised by France and others about potential ecological damage.

the flag of india
India Seeks Two More Deep Sea Mining Permits

India, already holding two exploration rights, now seeks two more from the International Seabed Authority (ISA).

The country desires to broaden its search for cobalt, nickel, copper, and manganese, which are vital components for solar panels, electric vehicles, and defence systems.

India's latest requests involve permission to investigate a 75,000 sq km (29,000 sq miles) expanse in the metal-rich Indian Ocean, which covers 70.5 million sq km (27 sq miles) globally.

Over 1.5 million sq km of the international seabed are already earmarked for exploration.

Approval from the ISA, headquartered in Jamaica, would elevate India's seabed permits to four, bringing it in line with Russia and trailing China by one permit. China remains steadfastly opposed to any halt in underwater activities.

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka has also laid claim to an area in the Bay of Bengal.

Numerous nations have expressed opposition to maritime prospectors’ frenzied rush. In 2022, French President Emmanuel Macron notably advocated for a complete ban on undersea mining in international waters, although such a ban has yet to materialise.

Deep sea mining profoundly impacts the seabed, causing significant disturbance to delicate ecosystems and geological formations. The process typically involves using remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) equipped with cutting tools and suction devices to extract mineral-rich nodules or ores from the ocean floor. This operation disrupts the seabed, stirring up sediment and potentially releasing harmful chemicals and heavy metals into the water column. Moreover, the extraction of minerals can lead to habitat destruction and loss of biodiversity, as organisms that rely on the seabed for shelter and food are displaced or killed. The removal of minerals alters the physical and chemical properties of the seabed, potentially affecting nutrient cycling and other critical ecosystem functions and also is a huge noise pollution for underwater creatures. Overall, deep-sea mining poses significant risks to the health and stability of marine life, particularly sharks. 

A graphic of undersea mining
Deep Sea Mining Causes Much Noise Pollution and Damage to Marine Life.

Deep-sea mining activities can disrupt shark habitats and food chains, leading to a decline in shark populations. As apex predators, sharks play a crucial role in maintaining the health and balance of marine ecosystems. Their decline could have far-reaching ecological impacts, affecting the entire oceanic food web.

Renowned natural historian David Attenborough has also voiced his concerns, calling for a cessation of deep-sea mining, which he describes as the destruction of "an ecosystem about which we know pathetically little."

Shark Guardian relies on donations to fund their work. If you would like to help us in the fight to protect sharks and their habitats, donate today!



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