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Washington Wild Supports Prevention of Seabed Mining

Posted on Feb 22, 2021 in Conservation News, WA Wild Blog

Dungeness Crab

Washington Wild signed onto a comment letter along with 25 organizations sent to Governor Jay Inslee urging his support of SB 5145 (2021-2022) concerning the prevention of seabed mining of hard minerals in Washington’s marine waters.

Coastal communities rely on the ocean to sustain jobs, sense of place, and spiritual practice. Seabed mining would harm these communities, impact tribal sovereign rights including but not limited to treaty fish and shellfish, and disrupt fishing and shellfish opportunities for all. Seabed mining jeapordizes the health of wildlife on and near the seafloor that are critical to our ecosystem as well as commercially important species like groundfish, halibut, and Dungeness crab.

In addition to acute damage to the seafloor, mining creates toxic sediment plumes, noise, light, and thermal pollution that disrupt marine communities, and other unpredictable impacts to the midwater ecosystem. This impacts the health of other wildlife in the marine environment such as salmon and steelhead, tuna, billfish, forage fish, and marine mammals, including the endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales.

Interest in mining mineral rich black sands, known to harbor iron, titanium and other minerals, has existed since at least the late 1800s along the Washington coast from Cape Flattery to the Columbia River. Without precautionary action via SB 5145, lease applications from industry could appear.

Oregon passed a law in 1991 banning seabed mining in its state waters. Washington should do the same.