As WA Bans Seabed Mining, Advocates Call on CA to Follow Suit
Thursday, May 6, 2021
MENDOCINO COUNTY, Calif. -- Ocean advocates in California are calling for a preemptive ban on seabed mining, saying the Golden State is the weak link on the West Coast.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signed a ban Monday on the destructive practice, which has been illegal in Oregon for 30 years.
Jennifer Savage, California policy manager for the Surfrider Foundation, said mining chews up pristine habitat for countless marine species.
"They vacuum up the sand, using dredging equipment," Savage explained. "It stirs up the sediment, it blocks the sunlight. The machinery also can create extraordinary underwater noise pollution."
Currently, no companies have applied to begin seafloor mining in state waters, but a boom in deep-sea mining is imminent, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature because of rising demand for minerals such as copper, nickel, aluminum, manganese, zinc, lithium, cobalt and iron, which are used in smartphones, solar panels and industrial batteries.
Savage suggested companies work harder to repurpose minerals in our existing devices.
"We have not pursued other available options as far as being able to use what we already have more efficiently and focus on recycling existing minerals," Savage contended.
The California State Lands Commission's strategic plan released in February outlined strong ocean-floor conservation policies.
Savage hopes the agency will issue a rule banning deep-sea mining by the end of the year.
Support for this reporting was provided by The Pew Charitable Trusts.
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