The world's population is growing and using more and more natural resources. Due to the scarcity and conservation of terrestrial resources, the extraction of minerals from the seabed is gaining increasing interest. However, the ecological impacts and large-scale consequences of seabed mining in both coastal seas and the deep sea are still poorly known, and all too often the consequences of human activities to ecosystems are observed after the damage has been done.
In a new open access paper, Kaikkonen and others studied what we already know about mining the seabed and what should be taken into consideration when assessing the risks to marine ecosystems. They reviewed literature to see how the impacts had been addressed in scientific studies both in experimental mining and parallel industries using a problem-structuring framework. To ensure that the rationale behind impact statements is clear and easy to communicate to stakeholders, the authors recommend that future ecological impact assessments should use pressure-specific elicitation of expert knowledge based on the causal relationships between the activity and the ecosystem responses. With increasing commercial interest towards seabed mineral resources, it is essential to consider the risks to ecosystems before planning large-scale activities.
Marine Pollution Bulletin 1 September 2018| https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpolbul.2018.08.055