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U.S. Congressman Ed Case (HI-01) has introduced two measures calling for moratoria on the mining of the world’s deep seabed unless and until its consequences are fully understood and a protective regulatory regime is established.

“Our deep oceans 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,” said Case.

“Over half of all known coral species are found in the deep sea, and as many as 10 million marine species may inhabit the deep sea, a massive and interrelated biodiversity seen nearly nowhere else on the planet,” Case continued. “Yet all of these species and natural processes, and in fact our entire marine ecosystem, are now imperiled by the imminent commencement of
large-scale commercial seabed mining operations. Seabed mining could take a number of destructive forms, including methods which would shear off seamounts on the ocean floor, the functional equivalent of strip mining.”

Case said the American Seabed Protection Act will place a moratorium on deep-sea mining activities in American waters or by American companies on the high seas. It also tasks the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Academies of Science with conducting a comprehensive assessment of how mining activities could affect ocean species, carbon sequestration processes and communities that rely on the ocean.

The International Seabed Protection Act will require the United States to oppose international and other national seabed mining efforts until the President certifies that the International Seabed Authority has adopted a suitable regulatory framework which will guarantee protection for these unique ecosystems and the communities that rely on them.

The introduction of the measures comes as the International Seabed Authority prepares to consider regulations that could open the international seabed for mining. While both companies and countries are lining up to secure mining permits, many are concerned about the impact on marine ecosystems, habitats and communities.

This legislation is cosponsored by Representatives Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ), Jared Huffman (D-CA), Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Chellie Pingree (D-ME).

This legislation is endorsed by the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition, Earthjustice, Natural Resources Defense Council, National Ocean Protection Coalition, Sustainable Ocean Alliance, Greenpeace USA, Earthworks, Benioff Ocean Science Lab, Blue Climate Initiative, the Ocean
Foundation, Marine Conservation Institute, Parley for the Oceans, Oceanic Preservation Society, Inland Ocean Coalition, FutureSwell, Conservation Council for Hawai‘i, Keiko Conservation, 350Hawai‘i, Zero Waste Hawai‘i Island and Greenpeace Hawai‘i.