Informal Session: Imagining Deep Sea Mining in the Pacific (!)
Deep sea mining (DSM) — the mining of the seabed for minerals using autonomous and remote operated vehicles — is a rapidly approaching event horizon. With op- erations set to begin in 2019, the Pacific is the site for several mining exploration contracts in both International Waters and several countries' Exclusive Eco- nomic Zones (EEZ). Centuries of curiosity for the deep sea gives way to this new industry and the concomitant political, legal and ecological consequences. DSM is a potent and multivalent enterprise evoking, among other things: the advance of science and technical progress, the next stages of humanity's exploitation of the planet's resources, the spirit of exploration in an era of human responsibility scientists label the Anthropocene.
This informal session asks: what are our diverse human relationships to the deep sea? While the deep sea is a key to understanding “deep time” (millions of years of Earth’s story), what are possible futures (short, mid and longterm) for the deep sea? What legal regimes and contexts does DSM create, and what international relation paradigms govern the high seas? Who is accountable for creating and enforcing regulations for DSM operations in the High Seas, and how are the operations monitored? When there are trillions of dollars (NOAA) in gold, copper, zinc and other minerals in the deep sea, what does it mean that the United Nations claims the High Seas for the “the Common Heritage of Mankind”? How do we understand DSM alongside more established forms of exploration and resource extraction, or future extractive industries, such as extraterrestrial mining?
We seek expressions of interest from anthropologists and Pacific Islands studies scholars, as well as artists, activists, and scientists. Our goal is to bring many perspectives into dialogue in order to explore humanity's relationship to the deep sea and its implications; and to curate a collection of media and articles to present a multidisciplinary inquiry into DSM.
Alex Golub, University of Hawaii Manoa <golub@Hawaii.edu>;
Lindsey Wilbur, University of Hawaii <firstname.lastname@example.org>