2 October 2020

Defending the health of the deep sea

#DeepWeek will encourage the public to dive a little deeper into the fascinating world of the deep sea

A Trachymedusae just above the seafloor along the west wall of Mona Canyon. Image courtesy of the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, Exploring Puerto Rico’s Seamounts, Trenches, and Troughs.

Research by the Frameworks Institute in the UK conducted in 2019 uncovered new insights into how the British public think about the ocean and perceive issues impacting its health. The study showed that many people see the ocean as a vast other world, containing ‘mysteries yet to be understood and depths yet uncharted’. This presents the ocean sector with a considerable challenge in communicating the importance of ocean protection for human wellbeing and planetary health.

“The deep sea is at risk of becoming out of sight and out of mind, even though it makes up 90% of the total liveable space on earth.”

Nowhere in our ocean is this ‘vast other world’ perception of the ocean more prominent than the deep sea, defined as ocean below 200m in depth. It is an environment that very few of us will ever get the chance to visit and as such, is at risk of becoming out of sight and out of mind, even though it makes up a staggering 90% of the total liveable space on earth.

“The deep sea helps keep our planet functioning and habitable, providing the oxygen we breathe and crucial carbon storage.”

The deep sea plays a hugely important role in all of our lives. It helps to keep our planet functioning and habitable, providing the oxygen we breathe, crucial carbon storage, cultural, inspirational and spiritual value across the planet and it supports global fisheries. It is home to a vast range of incredible creatures, the majority of which we’re yet to discover and is a potential source of new medicines (the recent COVID-19 diagnosis test was developed from an enzyme isolated from a sponge living on a hydrothermal vent).

It is therefore crucial that we all take urgent action in its defence and protect the life-support functions it performs for our planet and humankind. 

A sea toad, waiting for its next meal to swim by. Image courtesy of the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, Deepwater Wonders of Wake.

The Deep Sea Conservation Coalition (DSCC) are campaigning to protect the health of the deep-sea in the face of threats to its long term health, including deep-sea fishing and the emerging threat of deep-sea mining. 

The DSCCC’s deep-sea mining campaign aims to secure a moratorium or pause on the emerging destructive industry of deep-sea mining in areas beyond national jurisdiction and aims to build broader support for protecting the deep. The campaign includes a new online game, Game Over, to engage audiences with the issue and providing them with a real-world call to action to emailing their prime minister or president calling for a pause on the issuing of any exploitation contracts for deep-sea mining. 

The campaign is using framing recommendations set out in the FrameWorks Institute’s Turning the Tide research, employing the ‘changing health strategy’. This straightforward approach entails talking about how the ocean’s health has changed over time and increasing people’s sense that there are actions that we can take to heal it.

“We must continue to shine a light on the diverse values the deep sea provides to all of humanity.”

In order to ensure that deep sea doesn’t become ‘out of sight and out of mind’ it is important that we continue to shine a light on the diverse values it provides to all of humanity and the threats to its health that it faces.

For this reason, the DSCC community will be celebrating the crucial role of the deep sea in all of our lives across this year’s #DeepWeek, the first of its kind – kicking off the week with DeepSea TV on 5.10.20 from 8-9.30pm BST . 

#DeepWeek will encourage the public to dive a little deeper into this fascinating world, home to some of the most unique creatures on our planet and to take action in its defence.

 

About the DSCC

The Deep Sea Conservation Coalition works to protect the deep sea from the key threats it faces and are therefore aiming to secure a moratorium or pause on the emerging environmentally destructive industry in areas beyond national jurisdiction and build broader support for protecting the deep. 

You can find out more about the DSCC and the threat of deep-sea mining by visiting the DSCC’s website and taking a look at their new factsheets on deep-sea mining.