Hitchin, B., Smith, S., Kröger, K., Jones, D.O.B., Jaeckel, A., Mestre, N.C., Ardron, J., Escobar, E., van der Grient, J., Amaro, T. 2023. Thresholds in deep-seabed mining: A primer for their development. Marine Policy
The establishment of thresholds is integral to environmental management. This paper introduces the use of thresholds in the context of deep-seabed mining, a nascent industry for which an exploitation regime of regulations, standards and guidelines is still in the process of being developed, and for which the roles and values of thresholds have yet to be finalised. There are several options for integrating thresholds into the International Seabed Authority’s regulatory regime, from being stipulated in regulations to being part of a mining contract, each option having its own advantages and disadvantages. Here we explore the range of ways that thresholds can be derived, set out the challenges in translating ecological and management data into thresholds, highlight factors for acceptance and operationalisation of thresholds in deep-seabed mining, and explain the necessity of refining thresholds as knowledge on impacts to features improves. Some comparable marine industries already use thresholds and these could potentially be used as starting points for the development of thresholds for deep-seabed mining. In order to be acceptable to the wide range of deep-seabed mining stakeholders, thresholds need to strike a balance among levels of harm acceptable by society, levels of environmental precaution justifiable by governments, scientific robustness, and operational practicality.