Deep seabed mining is risky. If something goes wrong, who will pay for it? – by Ian Morse ( – October 8, 2021)

Pelenatita Kara travels regularly to the outer islands of Tonga, her low-lying Pacific Island home, to educate fishers and farmers about seabed mining. For many of the people she meets, seabed mining is an unfamiliar term.

Before Kara began appearing on radio programs, few people knew their government had sponsored a company to mine minerals from the seabed. “It’s like talking to a Tongan about how cold snow is,” she says. “Inconceivable.”

The Civil Society Forum of Tonga, where Kara works, and several other Pacific-based organizations have written to several governments and the International Seabed Authority (ISA) to express concerns that their countries may end up being responsible for environmental damage that occurs in the mineral-rich Clarion-Clipperton Zone, an expanse of ocean between Hawai‘i and Mexico.

“The Pacific is currently the world’s laboratory for the experiment of Deep Seabed Mining,” the groups wrote to the ISA, the U.N.-affiliated body tasked with regulating the nascent industry.

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