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MIDAS Science-Policy Panel

The purpose of the MIDAS Science-Policy Panel is to establish an ongoing dialogue between the MIDAS community and stakeholders in order to link research and policy, and to provide policymakers and stakeholders with sound and relevant scientific knowledge in support of policy developments.

MIDAS intends to convene a Science-Policy Panel annually from 2014-2016. The attendees at each panel meeting will include senior policymakers, stakeholders from industry and NGOs, representatives of international organisations, and leading scientists. The objective is to ensure that MIDAS results are brought promptly to the attention of policy makers in a forum where they can be discussed with all interested parties. Ultimately, the aim is to facilitate open discussions on the development of policy to accommodate deep-sea exploitation whilst maintaining good environmental status. 


Final meeting of the MIDAS Science-Policy Panel (7 October 2016)

The third and final meeting of the Science Policy Panel took place in the form of a policy-focused day at the end of the MIDAS Final Meeting in Gent. Open to all interested parties, the meeting attracted an audience of around 70 people from a wide range of sectors and stakeholder groups including regulatory bodies such as the International Seabed Authority and OSPAR; NGOs such as WWF and Seas at Risk; industry groups DEME, GSR and IHC; representatives from the various directorates of the European Commission, and scientists, engineers and social scientists from a broad range of academic and research organisations. The meeting comprised a series of presentations from the MIDAS lead scientists to summarise the project's acheivements and main conclusions, following the themes of:

  • Principles for the environmental management of deep-sea mining
  • Spatial management
  • Environmental impact assessment
  • The need for environmentally aware mining techniques

Each theme was followed by the opportunity for questions and open discussion. Many external participants commented favourably on the high volume of new information generated by MIDAS but noted that the lack of funding for follow-on research presented a major issue in ensuring the forthcoming mining code and its implementation will sufficiently protect the deep-sea environment. The importance of reducing plumes generated by mining activity was perceived by many to be the largest potential impactor on the marine environment, particularly the expected levels of fall-out sedimentation on the seafloor. These levels may seem very low to mining operators, but in the context of abyssal environments and over a mining project cycle of several decades they would present a serious threat to local ecosystems. Other topics that generated significant discussion centred on the difficulties of adequately understanding impacts on species connectivity when we still know so little about the species themselves, the effectiveness of restoration strategies, and the need for environmental data to be shared more widely between contractors, regulators and scientists in order to better and more effectively manage activities at a regional scale.



Second meeting of the MIDAS Science-Policy Panel (December 2015)

The second MIDAS Science-Policy Panel meeting was held at the Museum of Natural Sciences in Brussels on 8 December 2015. In total, 20 non-MIDAS attendees representing a range of stakeholder groups participated in the meeting, along with 11 researchers from the project. The objective of this event was to present some of the emerging scientific results of the MIDAS project to date in order to stimulate open discussions on key issues. 

Following a welcome by Prof. Philip Weaver, a 'rolling presentation' of some of the key scientific results to date was presented by a team of MIDAS researchers. The subsequent extended question and answer session touched on a variety of topics, including the suitability of different sampling and imaging techniques for environmental surveying, the distribution of APEIs/IRZs/PRZs in the Clarion-Clipperton Zone, the complexity of drawing comparisons between land-based mning and deep-sea mining, and how MIDAS results will feed into and assist the ISA in developing its mining code.

The afternoon session of the meeting comprised a series of presentations from industry representatives, NGOs and the ISA, who each outlined their perspectives on the developments in deep-sea mining. Amongst many issues, the final wrap-up discussion highlighted the importance of further collaboration between researchers and industry, and the benefits that would come from sharing environmental data collected by exploration contractors. All participants recognised and supported the urgent need for future funding in order to continue research beyond the end of MIDAS. It was agreed that a letter to this effect would be jointly written by NGO and industry representatives and sent to the European Commission.

A summary report of the second SPP meeting is avaiable to download below. Selected meeting presentations are also available but due to pre-publication confidentiality, not all MIDAS science presentations can be made publicly available at this stage.

MIDAS would like to thank all meeting participants for their input and support.


First meeting of the MIDAS Science-Policy Panel (November 2014)

The first MIDAS Science-Policy Panel meeting was held in the European Parliament on 28 November 2014. A total of thirty people attended the meeting including representatives from the European Commission (DG Research, DG MARE and DG Environment); NGOs WWF International, Seas at Risk and Oceana; ISA contractors BGR, Global Sea Mineral Resources and UK Seabed Resources; the OSPAR Commission; mining company MTI Holland; the International Marine Minerals Society, and a small number of MIDAS scientists.

Following a welcome by Prof. Philip Weaver, MIDAS project coordinator, a series of short presentations were given by the MIDAS team to introduce the scope and objectives of the project. This was followed by a series of Q&A and discussion sessions, and then a series of presentations from the different stakeholder sectors who outlined different perspectives on deep-sea mining topics. The issues raised during discussions were predictably wide-ranging but key recurring themes included the need for scientific input into the development of environmental management plans and regulatory frameworks, how the precautionary principle might be applied in deep-sea mining, the size of the gap in our understanding of the environmental impacts of deep-sea mining, and what timeframes are likely to be necessary in addressing this gap.

The SPP meeting participants agreed that the meeting had been highly successful in establishing an open and frank discussion platform, and was a very productive and effective means for exchanging information and debating issues relating to the environmental aspects of deep-sea mining.

A summary report of the meeting is available to download here. MIDAS would like to thank all meeting participants, and in particular MEP Ricardo Serrao Santos and his team for their support and assistance in organising this meeting at the European Parliament.