Deep-sea mining with no net loss of biodiversity—an impossible aim

Holly J. Niner, Jeff A. Ardron, Elva G. Escobar, Matthew Gianni, Aline Jaeckel, Daniel O. B. Jones, Lisa A. Levin, Craig R. Smith, Torsten Thiele, Phillip J. Turner, Cindy L. Van Dover, Les Watling, Kristina M. Gjerde

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Deep-sea mining is likely to result in biodiversity loss, and the significance of this to ecosystem function is not known. "Out of kind" biodiversity offsets substituting one ecosystem type (e.g.,coral reefs) for another (e.g., abyssal nodule fields) have been proposed to compensate for such loss. Here we consider a goal of no net loss (NNL) of biodiversity and explore the challenges of applying this aim to deep seabed mining, based on the associated mitigation hierarchy (avoid,minimize, remediate). We conclude that the industry cannot at present deliver an outcome of NNL. This results from the vulnerable nature of deep-sea environments to mining impacts, currently limited technological capacity to minimize harm, significant gaps in ecological knowledge, and uncertainties of recovery potential of deep-sea ecosystems. Avoidance and minimization of impacts are therefore the only presently viable means of reducing biodiversity losses from seabed mining. Because of these constraints, when and if deep-sea mining proceeds, it must be approached in a precautionary and step-wise manner to integrate new and developing knowledge. Each step should be subject to explicit environmental management goals, monitoring protocols, and binding standards to avoid serious environmental harm and minimize loss of biodiversity. "Out of kind" measures, an option for compensation currently proposed, cannot replicate biodiversity and ecosystem services lost through mining of the deep seabed and thus cannot be considered true offsets. The ecosystem functions provided by deep-sea biodiversity contribute to a wide range of provisioning services (e.g., the exploitation of fish, energy, pharmaceuticals, and cosmetics), play an essential role in regulatory services (e.g., carbon sequestration) and are important culturally. The level of "acceptable" biodiversity loss in the deep sea requires public, transparent, and well-informed consideration, as well as wide agreement. If accepted, further agreement on how to assess residual losses remaining after the robust implementation of the mitigation hierarchy is also imperative. To ameliorate some of the inter-generational inequity caused by mining-associated biodiversity losses, and only after all NNL measures have been used to the fullest extent, potential compensatory actions would need to be focused on measures to improve the knowledge and protection of the deep sea and to demonstrate benefits that will endure for future generations.

LanguageEnglish
Article number53
Pages1-12
Number of pages12
JournalFrontiers in Marine Science
Volume5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2018

Fingerprint

Deep sea mining
Biodiversity
biodiversity
Ecosystems
deep sea
underground mining
ecosystems
pollution control
ecosystem function
mitigation
loss
deep sea mining
environmental management
Reefs
Environmental management
Cosmetics
cosmetics
carbon sequestration
ecosystem services
coral reefs

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2018. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.

Keywords

  • Biodiversity offsetting
  • Compensation
  • Deep-sea mining
  • Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)
  • Mitigation hierarchy
  • No net loss

Cite this

Niner, H. J., Ardron, J. A., Escobar, E. G., Gianni, M., Jaeckel, A., Jones, D. O. B., ... Gjerde, K. M. (2018). Deep-sea mining with no net loss of biodiversity—an impossible aim. Frontiers in Marine Science, 5, 1-12. [53]. https://doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2018.00053
Niner, Holly J. ; Ardron, Jeff A. ; Escobar, Elva G. ; Gianni, Matthew ; Jaeckel, Aline ; Jones, Daniel O. B. ; Levin, Lisa A. ; Smith, Craig R. ; Thiele, Torsten ; Turner, Phillip J. ; Van Dover, Cindy L. ; Watling, Les ; Gjerde, Kristina M. / Deep-sea mining with no net loss of biodiversity—an impossible aim. In: Frontiers in Marine Science. 2018 ; Vol. 5. pp. 1-12.
@article{95536f5f98714ded8c90b415beada8e2,
title = "Deep-sea mining with no net loss of biodiversity—an impossible aim",
abstract = "Deep-sea mining is likely to result in biodiversity loss, and the significance of this to ecosystem function is not known. {"}Out of kind{"} biodiversity offsets substituting one ecosystem type (e.g.,coral reefs) for another (e.g., abyssal nodule fields) have been proposed to compensate for such loss. Here we consider a goal of no net loss (NNL) of biodiversity and explore the challenges of applying this aim to deep seabed mining, based on the associated mitigation hierarchy (avoid,minimize, remediate). We conclude that the industry cannot at present deliver an outcome of NNL. This results from the vulnerable nature of deep-sea environments to mining impacts, currently limited technological capacity to minimize harm, significant gaps in ecological knowledge, and uncertainties of recovery potential of deep-sea ecosystems. Avoidance and minimization of impacts are therefore the only presently viable means of reducing biodiversity losses from seabed mining. Because of these constraints, when and if deep-sea mining proceeds, it must be approached in a precautionary and step-wise manner to integrate new and developing knowledge. Each step should be subject to explicit environmental management goals, monitoring protocols, and binding standards to avoid serious environmental harm and minimize loss of biodiversity. {"}Out of kind{"} measures, an option for compensation currently proposed, cannot replicate biodiversity and ecosystem services lost through mining of the deep seabed and thus cannot be considered true offsets. The ecosystem functions provided by deep-sea biodiversity contribute to a wide range of provisioning services (e.g., the exploitation of fish, energy, pharmaceuticals, and cosmetics), play an essential role in regulatory services (e.g., carbon sequestration) and are important culturally. The level of {"}acceptable{"} biodiversity loss in the deep sea requires public, transparent, and well-informed consideration, as well as wide agreement. If accepted, further agreement on how to assess residual losses remaining after the robust implementation of the mitigation hierarchy is also imperative. To ameliorate some of the inter-generational inequity caused by mining-associated biodiversity losses, and only after all NNL measures have been used to the fullest extent, potential compensatory actions would need to be focused on measures to improve the knowledge and protection of the deep sea and to demonstrate benefits that will endure for future generations.",
keywords = "Biodiversity offsetting, Compensation, Deep-sea mining, Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), Mitigation hierarchy, No net loss",
author = "Niner, {Holly J.} and Ardron, {Jeff A.} and Escobar, {Elva G.} and Matthew Gianni and Aline Jaeckel and Jones, {Daniel O. B.} and Levin, {Lisa A.} and Smith, {Craig R.} and Torsten Thiele and Turner, {Phillip J.} and {Van Dover}, {Cindy L.} and Les Watling and Gjerde, {Kristina M.}",
note = "Copyright the Author(s) 2018. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.",
year = "2018",
month = "3",
day = "1",
doi = "10.3389/fmars.2018.00053",
language = "English",
volume = "5",
pages = "1--12",
journal = "Frontiers in Marine Science",
issn = "2296-7745",
publisher = "Frontiers Research Foundation",

}

Niner, HJ, Ardron, JA, Escobar, EG, Gianni, M, Jaeckel, A, Jones, DOB, Levin, LA, Smith, CR, Thiele, T, Turner, PJ, Van Dover, CL, Watling, L & Gjerde, KM 2018, 'Deep-sea mining with no net loss of biodiversity—an impossible aim', Frontiers in Marine Science, vol. 5, 53, pp. 1-12. https://doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2018.00053

Deep-sea mining with no net loss of biodiversity—an impossible aim. / Niner, Holly J.; Ardron, Jeff A.; Escobar, Elva G.; Gianni, Matthew; Jaeckel, Aline; Jones, Daniel O. B.; Levin, Lisa A.; Smith, Craig R.; Thiele, Torsten; Turner, Phillip J.; Van Dover, Cindy L.; Watling, Les; Gjerde, Kristina M.

In: Frontiers in Marine Science, Vol. 5, 53, 01.03.2018, p. 1-12.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

TY - JOUR

T1 - Deep-sea mining with no net loss of biodiversity—an impossible aim

AU - Niner, Holly J.

AU - Ardron, Jeff A.

AU - Escobar, Elva G.

AU - Gianni, Matthew

AU - Jaeckel, Aline

AU - Jones, Daniel O. B.

AU - Levin, Lisa A.

AU - Smith, Craig R.

AU - Thiele, Torsten

AU - Turner, Phillip J.

AU - Van Dover, Cindy L.

AU - Watling, Les

AU - Gjerde, Kristina M.

N1 - Copyright the Author(s) 2018. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.

PY - 2018/3/1

Y1 - 2018/3/1

N2 - Deep-sea mining is likely to result in biodiversity loss, and the significance of this to ecosystem function is not known. "Out of kind" biodiversity offsets substituting one ecosystem type (e.g.,coral reefs) for another (e.g., abyssal nodule fields) have been proposed to compensate for such loss. Here we consider a goal of no net loss (NNL) of biodiversity and explore the challenges of applying this aim to deep seabed mining, based on the associated mitigation hierarchy (avoid,minimize, remediate). We conclude that the industry cannot at present deliver an outcome of NNL. This results from the vulnerable nature of deep-sea environments to mining impacts, currently limited technological capacity to minimize harm, significant gaps in ecological knowledge, and uncertainties of recovery potential of deep-sea ecosystems. Avoidance and minimization of impacts are therefore the only presently viable means of reducing biodiversity losses from seabed mining. Because of these constraints, when and if deep-sea mining proceeds, it must be approached in a precautionary and step-wise manner to integrate new and developing knowledge. Each step should be subject to explicit environmental management goals, monitoring protocols, and binding standards to avoid serious environmental harm and minimize loss of biodiversity. "Out of kind" measures, an option for compensation currently proposed, cannot replicate biodiversity and ecosystem services lost through mining of the deep seabed and thus cannot be considered true offsets. The ecosystem functions provided by deep-sea biodiversity contribute to a wide range of provisioning services (e.g., the exploitation of fish, energy, pharmaceuticals, and cosmetics), play an essential role in regulatory services (e.g., carbon sequestration) and are important culturally. The level of "acceptable" biodiversity loss in the deep sea requires public, transparent, and well-informed consideration, as well as wide agreement. If accepted, further agreement on how to assess residual losses remaining after the robust implementation of the mitigation hierarchy is also imperative. To ameliorate some of the inter-generational inequity caused by mining-associated biodiversity losses, and only after all NNL measures have been used to the fullest extent, potential compensatory actions would need to be focused on measures to improve the knowledge and protection of the deep sea and to demonstrate benefits that will endure for future generations.

AB - Deep-sea mining is likely to result in biodiversity loss, and the significance of this to ecosystem function is not known. "Out of kind" biodiversity offsets substituting one ecosystem type (e.g.,coral reefs) for another (e.g., abyssal nodule fields) have been proposed to compensate for such loss. Here we consider a goal of no net loss (NNL) of biodiversity and explore the challenges of applying this aim to deep seabed mining, based on the associated mitigation hierarchy (avoid,minimize, remediate). We conclude that the industry cannot at present deliver an outcome of NNL. This results from the vulnerable nature of deep-sea environments to mining impacts, currently limited technological capacity to minimize harm, significant gaps in ecological knowledge, and uncertainties of recovery potential of deep-sea ecosystems. Avoidance and minimization of impacts are therefore the only presently viable means of reducing biodiversity losses from seabed mining. Because of these constraints, when and if deep-sea mining proceeds, it must be approached in a precautionary and step-wise manner to integrate new and developing knowledge. Each step should be subject to explicit environmental management goals, monitoring protocols, and binding standards to avoid serious environmental harm and minimize loss of biodiversity. "Out of kind" measures, an option for compensation currently proposed, cannot replicate biodiversity and ecosystem services lost through mining of the deep seabed and thus cannot be considered true offsets. The ecosystem functions provided by deep-sea biodiversity contribute to a wide range of provisioning services (e.g., the exploitation of fish, energy, pharmaceuticals, and cosmetics), play an essential role in regulatory services (e.g., carbon sequestration) and are important culturally. The level of "acceptable" biodiversity loss in the deep sea requires public, transparent, and well-informed consideration, as well as wide agreement. If accepted, further agreement on how to assess residual losses remaining after the robust implementation of the mitigation hierarchy is also imperative. To ameliorate some of the inter-generational inequity caused by mining-associated biodiversity losses, and only after all NNL measures have been used to the fullest extent, potential compensatory actions would need to be focused on measures to improve the knowledge and protection of the deep sea and to demonstrate benefits that will endure for future generations.

KW - Biodiversity offsetting

KW - Compensation

KW - Deep-sea mining

KW - Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)

KW - Mitigation hierarchy

KW - No net loss

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=85042769205&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.3389/fmars.2018.00053

DO - 10.3389/fmars.2018.00053

M3 - Article

VL - 5

SP - 1

EP - 12

JO - Frontiers in Marine Science

T2 - Frontiers in Marine Science

JF - Frontiers in Marine Science

SN - 2296-7745

M1 - 53

ER -

Niner HJ, Ardron JA, Escobar EG, Gianni M, Jaeckel A, Jones DOB et al. Deep-sea mining with no net loss of biodiversity—an impossible aim. Frontiers in Marine Science. 2018 Mar 1;5:1-12. 53. https://doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2018.00053