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‘Deep-sea mining could destroy Bermuda’s greatest asset’

Deep sea mining could destroy Bermuda's greatest asset with no guarantee of delivering any benefits, according to an environmental campaigner.

Judith Landsberg said that debris from any underwater digging could pose a threat to the Island's coral reefs and beaches — and ultimately the economy.

Government is considering a proposal to turn Bermuda's waters into a protected environmental zone, which would limit commercial activity within a 200-mile radius of the Island.

But in Wednesday's Royal Gazette, former Premier David Saul — a shareholder in a local subsea mineral prospecting company — said that to ignore mineral assets on the sea floor potentially worth billions of dollars would be “economic suicide” for the Island.

Critics argue that deep sea mining is not currently commercially viable, while environmental consequences are not known.

And Dr Landsberg, who is president of environment campaign group Greenrock, has echoed those concerns, describing mining as a “gamble” which threatens reefs and beaches.

She said that silt clouds could drift towards land, causing damage to the environment, while oil spills would ruin beaches.

“If this plume of mud drifted towards the Island, as it likely would at least sometimes, this would pose a serious risk to the health, even survival of our coral reefs, which are notoriously fragile and require clean and pure water to flourish,” she said.

“Damage to our reefs would in turn damage both our commercial and sport fisheries, because fish rely on the coral to feed and thrive. The coral growing around Bermuda also forms a natural and renewable defence against wave damage and its loss would increase the risk of our coast being battered even more severely during hurricanes and other storms.”

“And there are our famous pink beaches, which are the product of our clean water and our corals. As sediment chokes the corals, the renewal of our sand will be reduced. Put simply we risk our sandy beaches turning brown, muddy or disappearing, putting our tourism industry at risk.”

Dr Landsberg concluded: “Let's prioritise protecting our pure clear water and all that goes with it, including our current economic health, and recognise that these are immeasurably more valuable to Bermuda in the short and long-term than seabed mining is ever likely to be and that taking risks with them is simply a very bad idea.”

See Dr Landsberg's full commentary in the Opinion section.

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Published October 05, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated October 04, 2013 at 11:57 pm)

‘Deep-sea mining could destroy Bermuda’s greatest asset’

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