Canadian mining company Nautilus Minerals Inc. has staked its reputation on bringing off the world’s first deep sea mining (DSM) operation. The Bismarck Sea in Papua New Guinea has been marked out as the testing ground for this unprecedented technology. Many other companies − from Japan, China, Korea, the UK, Canada, USA, Germany and the Russian Federation − are waiting to see if Nautilus can successfully bring metals from sea floor to smelter before taking the plunge themselves. They have already taken out exploration licenses covering over 1.5 million square kilometers of the Pacific sea floor.
This frenzy of DSM exploration is occurring in the absence of regulatory regimes or conservation areas to protect the unique and little known ecosystems of the deep sea and without meaningful consultation with the communities who will be affected by DSM. Furthermore, scientific research into impacts remains extremely limited and provides no assurance that the health of coastal communities and the fisheries on which they depend will be guaranteed.