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Greenpeace Swansea exposes little known threat of deep sea mining ahead of World Oceans Day

Local residents create sea horse beach art in protest against deep sea mining.

ON Saturday 3rd June, volunteers from Greenpeace Swansea took part in a global protest urging the UK government to call for a halt on deep sea mining.

This protest took place ahead of the International Seabed Authority (ISA) meeting on deep sea mining in Kingston, Jamaica next month.

Eleven volunteers created a piece of beach art in the shape of sea horse, and held a banner reading ‘Swansea is deeply against deep sea mining’, and a Welsh flag.

Everyone wore blue, and the artwork showcased the bioluminescence of many of the deep sea’s creatures, by using shiny material for the sea horse and long driftwood for its spine.

Alison Broady, Swansea group coordinator from Mount Pleasant, said: ‘On Saturday, volunteers from Greenpeace Swansea and I came together on Swansea beach to make a piece of beach art showing a sea horse. Deep sea mining would destroy the habitat of sea horses and other fantastic sounding but little-known sea life such as lion’s mane jellyfish, ghost octopus, yeti crab, scaly-foot snail or barreleye fish. That’s why ahead of World Oceans Day, we’re sending a message to our MPs Carolyn Harris (Swansea East) and Geraint Davies (Swansea West) and PM Rishi Sunak that they need to take ocean protection seriously, and call for a ban on deep sea mining.’

This global banner protest is the latest step in the campaign to protect our oceans. Throughout May and June, volunteers have been engaging the public through a series of activities to make them aware of what is at stake and to put pressure on the UK government ahead of the ISA meeting in late July. One activity challenged local residents to draw what they think one of the deep sea’s little known creatures looks like. These drawings will be delivered to the UK Government to demonstrate that people across the UK do not support plans to strip the ocean floor for profit.

On 4th May, Star Wars Day, Greenpeace invited the world’s most notorious super villains, Darth Vader, Dr Evil and Thanos, to join other ocean destroyers at the deep sea mining conference in London.

The ISA will meet in July where it faces commercial pressure to allow deep sea mining to start. Deep sea mining is being driven by profit-hungry companies wanting to make a quick buck. Vast areas of the deep ocean floor – one of the last untouched ecosystems on earth – would be stripped bare by deep sea mining, causing irreversible damage to marine life.

The UK government is currently supporting research into deep sea mining having approved exploratory deep sea mining licences 10 years ago to UK Seabed Resources (UKSR). The UK now sponsors some of the largest areas for deep sea mining exploration, covering 133,000km2 of the Pacific Ocean, through UKSR. That’s an area larger than the size of England.

But the rest of the world is waking up to the significance of the threat from deep sea mining.

As well as leading green tech companies calling for a moratorium, many governments support a pause on deep sea mining. Recent months have also seen Indigenous advocates reject deep sea mining, scientific warnings of the risks grow ever stronger, and the longest-standing and biggest corporate backer of the industry call it quits. In May, Maersk announced it was jumping ship, becoming the latest big name to divest from deep sea mining.

The UN recently agreed a Global Oceans Treaty, which the UK government backed but its tacit support for deep sea mining is completely at odds with its ambition to be global leaders on ocean protection.

Instead of allowing the exploitation of our oceans, or unsustainable land-based mineral extraction, the government must prioritise resource efficiency, and a transition to a circular economy, whereby resource usage is reduced and metals already in circulation are reused and recycled.

Alison continued ‘Rather than a handful of companies exploiting the deep sea for profit, we need to prioritise reusing resources and moving to a sustainable, circular economy. I don’t want the phone I use, or the chips in my computer to be there as a result of damage to such a precious ecosystem which protects us from climate change and provides livelihoods to people across the world.’