Taxonomic Problems in Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Linked to Ocean Mining and Possibility of New Technology Developments

  • Tomohiko FukushimaEmail author
  • Miyuki Nishijima


The expectation for the development of deep-sea mineral resources has grown as global metal resources have continued to run short. At the same time, there is also a demand for rigorous environmental impact assessments. However, unlike risk assessments for human health, there are no clear standards or indicators for impact assessments for the natural environment. For this reason, although the importance of environmental impact assessments has been stressed at the conceptual level, it is not easy to suggest specific methods. In the case of shallow water, for which knowledge of the taxonomy and ecosystem is relatively rich, the impact is generally evaluated based on biomass, abundance, species richness, rare species, endemic species, dominant species, or keystone species. In contrast, for deep waters, there is a deficiency in highly specialized taxonomists and identification technicians, making it difficult to obtain such indicators as for shallow waters. On the other hand, opportunities for deep-sea mineral resources development are increasing. Therefore it is difficult to imagine that the development will be interrupted by EIA issues. These facts suggest that there is an urgent need for environmental impact evaluators to resolve the issues in indexing the impacts of mining of deep-sea minerals. In this chapter, the current problems of environmental assessment in relation to development of deep-sea mineral resources are explained, and the possibility of impact assessment through molecular biological approach is discussed.



This study was conducted as a part of next-generation technology for ocean resources exploration, which is one of cross-ministerial strategic innovation promotion program (SIP), organized by Cabinet Office, Government of Japanese. Authors would like to express our gratitude to members of “Research and Development Center for Submarine Resources” of “Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC)” for their valuable advice.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and TechnologyYokosukaJapan

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