A Seat for the Sea #7

Who pays, who controls?

Ocean Minerals & Scientific Research

a public seminar on 28/03/2023, 18:00
Muntpunt, Munt 6
1000 Brussels

nodules @ SBMA Cook Islands - Photo by Greet Brauwers - Click for high res

Scientists have been trying to explore the oceans in depth for centuries. But it is not that easy. After all, studying the vastness/dimensions of the ocean requires time, sophisticated equipment and a lot of funding. Measuring instruments have to withstand the immense pressure at great depths. And satellites can observe the ocean surface, but not the currents and properties of the kilometres of deep water below. The depths of our oceans remain full of mystery. We know more about the surface of the moon than the seabed.

Industry is deeply intertwined with scientific research either in the form of money or in the training of researchers. Among the benefits, it is mentioned that innovative research emerges from the scientist's relationship with industry.

Meanwhile representatives of various scientific disciplines from around the world, express their concerns about the recently approved exploration contracts for research into possible deep-sea mining. About a million square kilometres of the international seabed has been outsourced to individual governments and companies. According to the scientists, there is a difference between scientific research to understand how deep-sea ecosystems function and support vital processes and the activities carried out under exploration contracts of the International Seabed Authority - ISA. The former serves to learn and discover, improving scientific knowledge about the largest ecosystem on Earth, while the second serves to assess the economic potential for extraction.

Does the deep-sea mining industry create confusion about the objectives of basic scientific research? Will the industry's commercial interests drive or influence scientific research at their test sites? What kind of data might eventually be kept confidential i.e. private? In case of disagreements between researchers and sponsors, does the scientist retain his right to publish? Is there room in this kind of research for a postcolonial way of thinking, indigenous knowledge and a more holistic perspective?

Panel : Ann Vanreusel (head of the research group Marine Biology of Ghent University), Sarah Vanden Eede (Oceans Policy Officer WWF) and Sandor Mulsow (Former director of the Office of Environmental Management and Mineral Resources at the ISA). Marc Kochzius is unfortunately unable to attend. We can, however, announce an additional inspirational speaker : Steven Degraer, head of OD Nature's Marine Ecology and Management Section at the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences. With a video contribution by Alanna Smith (director Te Ipukarea Society Cook Islands) and a performance intervention by Greet Brauwers and Raf Custers

ASftS#7 is supported by the Flemish Government and the Minister for Climate and Environment

in association with Oceans & Lakes and weKONEKT.brussels
Oceans and Lakes is a masters programme of UGhent-VUB-UAntwerp