Deep-sea mining: connectivity and conservation implications
Posted by Jonathan Gardner | New Zealand, New Zealand
Deep-sea mining is likely to commence in the very near future in several different areas in the Pacific Ocean. Whilst this mining activity may bring substantial economic benefits it will also bring major conservation problems. We know very little about the ecology of most deep sea sites, or about which species exist at different sites. Rates and routes of connectivity between different areas or regions are unknown for most species, meaning that it is presently very difficult to protect such species. This project will investigate genetic connectivity of species at different spatial scales within areas that are to be mined in the future. The key is to find a balance between deep sea mining and the conservation of species. The identification of source populations from which recruits originate will help with the management of mining activity and will contribute to the conservation of populations and species. The establishment of set aside areas that are not mined will contribute to this, but to place set aside areas in the most beneficial locations and to know the size of the set aside areas requires knowledge of which species are present and how connectivity maintains populations. Different rates of connectivity will exist for different species, meaning that there is no one size fits all answer. To address this problem, this project will determine connectivities for different species with a range of life-history characteristics. This information will be used to ensure the conservation of deep-sea species and ecosystems once deep-sea mining commences.