In spite of a proliferation of academic and policy-oriented interest in deep sea mining (DSM), this paper argues that two underlying questions remain underexplored. The first relates to what exactly the seabed is; the second to who the stakeholders are. It is argued that a greater interrogation of how the seabed is defined and understood, and a deeper consideration of how stakeholders are identified and the politics of their inclusion, is crucial to the enactment of policy and planning techniques. Through the analysis of current regulations to govern DSM in both national and international jurisdictions, this paper critically examines these seemingly banal but vital questions in different contexts. It is contended that most regulations are ‘fuzzy’ when it comes to addressing these questions, with the result that different understandings of the seabed and the implications of mining are ignored and that who stakeholders are and how they are defined causes many relevant voices to be unheard. It is argued, therefore, that it is imperative to address these often-overlooked questions directly in order to inform future seabed policy and governance.
- Deep sea mining (DSM)
- Ontological questions