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A Call for Deep-Ocean Stewardship

Mengerink, Kathryn J., Van Dover, Cindy L., Ardron, Jeff, Baker, Maria, Escobar-Briones, Elva, Gjerde, Kristina, Koslow, J. Anthony, Ramirez-Llodra, Eva, Lara-Lopez, Ana, Squires, Dale, Sutton, Tracey, Sweetman, Andrew K., Levin, Lisa A.
Science 2014 v.344 no.6185 pp. 696-698
carbon dioxide, continental shelf, ecosystems, energy, energy resources, humans, image analysis, marine environment, marine resources, metals, minerals, nutrients, robots
Covering more than half the planet, the deep ocean sequesters atmospheric CO ₂ and recycles major nutrients; is predicted to hold millions of yet-to-be-described species; and stores mind-boggling quantities of untapped energy resources, precious metals, and minerals (1). It is an immense, remote biome, critical to the health of the planet and human well-being. The deep ocean (defined here as below a typical continental shelf break, >200 m) faces mounting challenges as technological advances—including robotics, imaging, and structural engineering—greatly improve access. We recommend a move from a frontier mentality of exploitation and single-sector management to a precautionary system that balances use of living marine resources, energy, and minerals from the deep ocean with maintenance of a productive and healthy marine environment, while improving knowledge and collaboration.