Oceanic food, energy, and mineral resources


I. Fundamental Concepts of Environmental Science

A. The number one environmental problem is increase in human population.  The total environmental problem equals the impact per person multiplied by the number of people, so as population increases the total impact increases.  As population increases more resources are needed and, given our present technology, the amount of environmental disruption increases.

1. This introduces another fundamental concept that of EXPONENTIAL GROWTH.  The human population is growing exponentially, that is, the rate of increase is a constant percentage of the current size.  E.G., consider a student who, upon taking a job for one month, requests a payment of 1 cent for the 1st day, 2 cents for the 2nd, 4 cents for the third, and so on, doubling every day.  It would take the student 8 days to reach $1/day, but only until the 11th day to exceed $10/day.  By the 16th day the wage would be greater than $300/day and on the last day of a 31-day month the student would earn more than $10 million for that one day.

2. Many scientists are worried that the increasing population will make it impossible to supply resources and quality environment for the expected billions of people who may be added to the present world by the 21st century.  Increasing population compounds nearly all environmental problems including:

a. pollution of surface waters

b. hazardous waste production & management

c. exposure of people & buildings to natural hazards (hurricanes, volcanic eruptions, etc.)

3. When resource and other environmental data are combined with population growth data, the conclusion is clear: it is impossible to match exponential growth in population with a finite resource base.

4. Pessimistic scientists believe that population growth will take care of itself through disease and other catastrophes such as famine.  Optimistic people and scientists hope that we will be able to control world population to within the limits of our available resources, space and other environmental needs.

B.  The Earth is essentially a closed system and an understanding of rates of change and feedback in systems is critical to solving environmental problems.

1. System = any part of the universe being isolated for studying or observing changes that take place under various imposed conditions.  Most systems contain various component parts which mutually adjust, and each part exerts partial control on the others.

a. For example, Earth is commonly divided into:

1) Atmosphere

2) Hydrosphere

3) Lithosphere

4) Biosphere

b. The mutual interaction of these parts is responsible for the surface features of the Earth today.  Furthermore, any change in the magnitude or frequency of processes in one part will affect the other parts.

1) For example, in the hydrosphere the spatial distribution of the oceans with respect to the sunlight received affects the evaporation processes of seawater, which in turn affects atmospheric conditions by increasing or decreasing the amount of water in the atmosphere.  As we've seen, internal Earth processes significantly affect the distribution of ocean basins on Earth's surface.

2. Closed = Very little matter has been gained or lost by the Earth since it first solidified into its current spherical shape.

3. Positive and Negative Feedback Loops describe the interrelationships between different parts of a single system. The climatic examples below demonstrate how the different parts of the climate system are related to each other so that what happens in one subsystem can aggravate or minimize what happens in a related part of the system. Once activated it can be very difficult to stop or slow a positive feedback

a. Positive = vicious circle

1) This example involves the effect of snow or ice cover on air and Earth-surface temperature. Ice and snow are highly reflective – a property called albedo (reflectivity). Bare ground and water, on the other hand, have much lower albedo. Therefore, an increase in the area of ice cover results in a higher albedo – a greater amount of reflected sunlight. This, in turn, decreases air/surface temperatures as less solar radiation is absorbed and more solar energy is reflected back into space without causing any heating. The decreased temperature leads to more ice and snow cover and so forth . . . ..

2) The sequence is:

a) Drop in air temperature

b) More extensive ice/snow cover

c) More reflected incoming solar radiation

d) Less heating of atmosphere by ground

e) Further drop in air temperature

b. Negative = self-regulating process

1) Rise in air temperature

2) Faster rate of evaporation

3) More extensive cloud cover

4) More blockage of incoming solar radiation

5) Drop in air temperature

4. Growth rates are important in changes that take place in systems.  Exponential growth is particularly important.  In particular it is important that we recognize exponential growth with positive feedback, as it may be very difficult to stop positive feedback cycles.  Negative feedback, on the other hand, tends toward a steady state and thus is easier to control.

a. An understanding of changes in natural systems is crucial for solving environmental problems because very small growth rates may yield incredibly large numbers in modest periods of time.

b. Tinkering with phytoplankton populations may have unpredictable results.

1) For example, we need to be very careful about experiments such as fertilizing Earth’s oceans with iron to stimulate phytoplankton growth.

5. So, its exceedingly important to recognize Earth's cycles and to determine the length of time involved in various parts of specific cycles, as well as to determine the linkages between different parts of the system.

C. The Earth is the only suitable habitat we have, and its resources are limited.

1. Don't count on colonies on Mars, etc.!!!

2. Our resources are finite and some are renewable, while others are nonrenewable.  We can't count on technology to come up with a new compound in time to replace one we're using up, before it’s gone.

3. Most scientists and economists believe that exponential population growth is incompatible with a finite resource base.

D. The effects of land use tend to be cumulative, and, therefore, we have an obligation to those who follow.

1. Very little of the Earth's surface can be considered to be unaffected by human activities, even those areas in which no human being has ever set foot.

2. Our ability to cause further changes is increasing at a rapid rate.

a. Deforestation may affect coral reefs

b. Agriculture affects coral reefs

c. Estuaries are major marine hatcheries and are very vulnerable.

E. With  these ideas in mind, let's see how the oceans may  help us meet the world's growing demands for food, energy & mineral resources.


II. World’s Present Food Resources

A. As population increases studies indicate that we are approaching the limit of possible food production for the Earth.

1. About half of the tillable land is being used and the rest is of poorer quality so we can't double our production.

2. The backlog of unused agricultural technology is shrinking, leaving farmers with fewer agronomic options for expanding food output.

3. Growing human demands are pushing the limits of rangelands to supply beef and mutton.

4. Demands for water are pushing the limits of the hydrological cycle to supply irrigation water in key food-growing regions.

5. In many countries, using additional fertilizer on currently available crop varieties has little or no effect on yields.

6. Countries that already are densely populated when they begin to industrialize risk losing cropland as farmland is converted to other uses. And already the areas in the world having low rates of grain production have above-average rates of population growth, (i.e., South America, Asia, Africa)

7. Social disintegration driven by rapid population growth and environmental degradation is undermining many national governments and their efforts to expand food production.

8. Present estimate of total Earth productivity is 25 billion tons C/year

a. 15 billion tons = land

b. 10 billion tons = ocean

B. Currently there is sufficient food to feed the world's population if it were equitably distributed. Such is not the case and half the world is malnourished.

C.  Currently humans get most of their protein from terrestrial plants and animals:

1. North Americans, Australians, New Zealanders and Western Europeans get a large percentage of their daily protein from beef, chicken and pigs.

2. The rest of the world gets most of its protein from vegetables, notably rice and other grains.

3. Wealthier countries get more protein per day and pay a smaller percentage of their income for it.

a. Americans 13% of income spent on food

b. Indians 60-90 % of income spent on food

c. Humans only need at most 20-25 grams of animal protein per day and Americans get 100 gms.

4. Hardly anyone gets most of their protein from fish, although fish provides 1/6 of the world’s animal protein supply.

a. Only 2% of total food harvest comes from ocean

D. Are the world's oceans a potential supply to solve the world's growing food problems ???

1. Seafood has recognized nutritional advantages:

a. Good source of B-12

b. Low in cholesterol and saturated fats

c. High in polyunsaturated fats

2. Currently we harvest almost only animal protein from the oceans.  We will probably never be able to harvest the vegetable protein (phytoplankton makes up most of the biomass in the ocean) because it is too tiny and widely dispersed.

a. Requires more energy and technology than is economically feasible.  Too much water to filter, and too much territory to cover.

3. So we need to stick with vegetable protein from the land and improve our harvest of animal protein from the sea.


III. Trends in Global Fishing in the past 50 years (Data as of 1995)

A. People used to think marine food resources were infinite and they could not conceive of the possibility of overfishing.

B. The exponential increase in human population has encouraged more and more extensive fishing to the point that exploitation of marine fisheries is by far the largest single anthropogenic impact on the sea.

C. Current status of the commercial fishing industry       

1. 1.2 million large registered boats

a. 40,000 freezer/trawlers that can process

> 1 ton/hour

b. Some trawlers so big could swallow the Statue of Liberty

2. 15-21 million people employed by commercial fishing

3. Average worth of commercial fishing between 1989 and 1993 was $76 billion (US)/year

a. Many nations subsidize fishing including the 22˘/gallon fuel subsidy in US ($250 mill./yr)

4. > 1 billion folks in Asia get main protein from fish.

a. Tokyo fish market is the biggest in the world at 5 million lbs/day ($28mill./day)

b. Most valuable fish ever sold there was a bluefin tuna (52 kg = $10,000 US)

1) With prices like that it is unlikely that this species will avoid extinction

c. Marine organisms provide 1/6 of the world’s animal-protein supply.

Asian  60 %

American 15%

African  15%

Oceanic Pacific 10%

d. Per capita consumption

Japan  70 kg/yr

Russia 25 kg/yr

US     20 kg/yr

            Indonesia  16 kg/yr

            India  4 kg/yr

                        e. Who’s harvesting?

  Japan   China    Peru    Chile    Russia    US

Although Russia’s fleet is much larger than Japan’s, the improved Japanese technology allows them to harvest more.                                               

5. 32% of all stocks are fully or over-exploited

6. 13 of world’s 15 major fisheries are in decline

a. * indicates most rapidly declining

Alaskan Pollock

Atlantic Herring

Pacific Perch *

Pacific Herring *

Pacific Haddock *

Pacific King Crab *

b. World total catch of cod, haddock, halibut, flounder, and sole have been steadily decreasing lately.

c. Many fisheries are cyclical because of the overfishing from which it takes time to recover

d. In some fisheries the declining species have been replaced by other species

1) S.Africa-- Pilchard declined due to overfishing but was replaced by anchovy.

2) Namibia-Pilchard collapsed but wasn’t replaced because everything else collapsed too.

3) Jellyfish are a typical replacement species in many regions (i.e., Black Sea and Chesapeake Bay) and these are much less usable.

4) We’ll see more phytoplankton blooms as the planktivores are depleted.

7. Fisheries threatened with collapse

a. Equatorial Pacific

b. W. African coast

c. Peruvian Anchovy

d. George’s Banks/Grand Banks (NE of Canada)

e. North Atlantic Cod

f. North Sea Cod

g. Especially susceptible are fisheries such as that of the orange roughy that lives around seamounts and underwater plateaus off New Zealand and Australia. (Found around 800 meters down)

---Differ markedly from other deepwater species in that have higher protein and lower water

content than other deep-water fish.

---Lives here probably because localized upwelling and eddies around seamounts may enhance primary productivity.

---Seamount fisheries even within the territorial waters are typically depleted within 5-10 years in the absence of a vigorous program of research and management

8. 1986-1993 total fish harvest 100 million tons/yr

a. Inland fish and aquaculture = 1/6 of total This does not count recreational fishing.

b. 30 lbs/person/year

1) By 2020 we will have to double the catch to maintain that per capita consumption rate

c. Marine catch = 80 million tons/year

Pacific = 60%

Atlantic = 20%

Indian = 10%

d.Of this 80 million tons, 27 million discarded as “by-catch”

1) In the Gulf of Mexico, for every 1 lb of shrimp harvested 4 lbs are shoveled back into the sea.

2) The by-catch ranges from 13-30% of the total harvest

9. 43% of the fisheries registered at the UN (370 in all) are in the Pacific or Indian Oceans and, therefore, we have no information on them.

D. Other problems:

1. Damage to food webs by heavy harvesting of a few species

2. 50% of the world’s mangroves have been destroyed by shrimp fisheries. These mangrove salt marshes are important spawning and nursing grounds for many open marine species. We must consider the impact of these activities on the harvest.

3. Trawling is used to harvest many benthic species. The trawling apparatus can weight 1000’s of pounds and    it exposes, crushes, scours, and buries the life forms that support the very fish that is being harvested.

E. It seems that physically and technically we can do whatever we want with fisheries “except make the right decisions”.


IV. What do we need to do differently?

A. Closely regulate the fleets and seriously scale them down - it’s obvious that there is too much effort and capacity, but the control of this is political and economic and not driven by the idea of preserving the resource.

1. Present fleet is 2 X larger than 20 years ago

2. Currently there is open access to fisheries so even the collapsed fisheries can be exploited.

3. They’re building bigger and faster boats so they can get there faster.

B. Harvest only the maximum sustainable yield - but first figure out how much that is. Obviously there are two major problems with this concept.

1. Regulation will be very difficult. Recent UN meetings have recognized that the voluntary regulation systems in place have failed, but they can not come up with a solution.

a. Quotas have often become international currency used in political bargaining.

b. Illegal forays into regulated coastal waters are common. (Alaskan example = the “doughnut hole” in the Bering Sea)

2. We do not have the quantitative, accurate, complete information on the status of fisheries so we are currently unable to properly assess the fish stocks and determine just what the maximum sustainable yield is.

a. Our current stock assessments are + or - 50 % so we have insufficient data to accurately calculate the maximum sustainable yield

b. The old approach of just studying the numbers, however, has not enabled us to make accurate predictions.  Also, much of today’s policy is based on 1957 science.

1) Old models just studied growth, birth, death, and harvest rates.

2) Didn’t study food webs, food chains or environmental factors that affected growth, birth, and death rates.

c. Current models did not predict the collapse of the Anchovy fishery, nor its recovery.

1) We had no data on these small pelagics

d. More efficient management will require more attention to multi-species assemblage models (which are only beginning to be developed) and the recognition that stock dynamics are chaotic and not at steady state or equilibrium.

e. Need more information on the whole biological, chemical and physical system.

C. We need to base harvesting limits on “total tonnage” not just on the amount taken of the species they were looking for.

1. Also regulate size of fish caught (i.e., age) because the young are much more efficient at putting on weight, so should take adults instead.

D. Get rid of “species selective” fisheries which have led to the present situation.

E. Must make harvesters use everything they catch and not throw 25% of it back into the water DEAD.

1. This has worked where it’s been tried

F. Harvest more coastal fish (anchovy, etc.) instead of deep ocean fish like tuna, which are at the top of a long food chain. We need to use sardines, anchovies, and herring for primary protein for humans instead of for fish meal, fish oil, and fertilizer. This harvesting farther down the trophic pyramid is a much more efficient use of limited resources.

1. Although much more of the total food is produced by plants in the open ocean, than in coastal upwelling areas, most of this “open-ocean” food energy is lost at intermediate trophic levels, so by the time it reaches the fish we harvest there is very little left.

2. Nutritionists will have to find attractive and appealing ways to use the protein from these lower trophic levels, which are usually not as attractive to humans.

a. Need to develop and get people to use something like a “Fish Protein Concentrate” that doesn't spoil and could be added to food

G. Restrict harvest from overfished stocks in the Atlantic and Pacific.  Encourage harvesting of stocks in Indian Ocean

            1. Benthic mollusks, crustaceans, tuna, herring, cod, perch, and anchovies are overfished

a. King Crab fishery-Bering Sea 1975-80

b. Haddock fishery NE USA in the 1930's

c. Redfish fishery Gulf of Mexico-1980's

d. Peruvian anchovy fishery-1960/1970's

2. Encourage harvesting from Indian Ocean

3. Recent research suggests that overharvesting may not be irreversible. Researchers found that 125 of 128 fish stocks they studied had not suffered any long-term reproduction problem after being overfished to record low levels. (Earth, December, 1995; p. 13)


V. If suitable measures are developed, adopted, and followed how much can we expect to increase our harvest of animal protein from the sea? Current research suggests that we will be able to sustain a harvest of no more than 2X the current harvest, but only if we let the depleted stocks recover

A. So, what’s next?

B. Aquaculture and mariculture -- We need to start farming the sea, rather than hunting it.

1. Began in China about 4000 years ago and there’s an old Chinese proverb that states:

 “If you give a person a fish, he will have food for one day, but if you teach him to raise fish, he will have food for a lifetime.”

2. Aquaculture of finfish in 1990 was 8 million tons (about 10% of the total marine harvest) and it’s predicted it will increase to 60 million tons/year by 2025 (comparable to the current marine harvest). Although most of the aquaculture is in Asia there is a thriving and growing aquaculture industry in NC.

a. In N.C. catfish = 2 million tons/year

b. NC Hybrid Striped Bass fishery is rapidly expanding and is currently shipping fish as far as Taiwan, but on a regular basis to the NE US and Canada.

3. Crustaceans today = 1/2 aquaculture & 1/2 harvest

4. Catfish is a clear success story but other species are also showing good success: salmon, mussels, tilapia, freshwater trout, oysters and scallops.

5. Currently, many cultured species are fed on protein-rich feeds made from the less desirable animals like minced oysters, clams, squids, and crustaceans.  Obviously, this is not very efficient.  The herbivorous species should be encouraged, instead.

6. Nutrients sink rapidly out of sunlit waters and can no longer be used by phytoplankton to support a big food chain.

a. Need to consider developing systems whereby we can pump cold, deep nutrient-rich waters up into the photic zone to increase productivities.

7. Often cause problems in multi-use areas such as estuaries.

8. Can also expand Sea ranching or ocean ranching = hatchery rearing and release of seagoing fish.


VI. Ocean energy resources

A.  Introduction - the diagram shows that the US gets about 95% of its  energy from fossil fuels in the form of coal, oil and natural gas.

B. Oil and natural gas (along with coal, although it is of terrestrial origin) ARE NONRENEWABLE RESOURCES BECAUSE:

1. Formation of fossil fuels in the sea = oil and natural gas (Remember the photosynthesis reaction)

a. Photosynthesis

b. Organic detritus sinks to bottom of ocean

c. Must be covered before it is all oxidized

d. After deep burial and significant heating and pressurizing (A few kilobars and 350oC) this organic detritus is converted to oil or natural gas.    

e. Now after conversion, it is less dense than surrounding sediments so it starts to rise towards the surface.  If nothing stops its progress it is lost into the waters of the ocean and eventually into the atmosphere.

f. If it runs into an impermeable bed such as shale or salt it will be trapped and may eventually form a pool of oil that can be pumped, if it gets large enough.

1) Pictures of traps

2. As this description suggests geologists are required to find oil, because we know where to look for the right type of rock, of the right age, with the right structures.

3. Although the USA has less than 6% of the world's population we use 30% of its energy. 

C. Oil/Natural gas resources in the ocean

1. In the late 1980’s the world was using about 20 X 109 barrels / year and 4 X 109 or about one fifth of this came from the sea.

a. We are continually having to exploit less accessible and more expensive deposits (e.g. in deeper water)

b. Most of the future oil/gas discoveries will be "offshore".

2. A projection of future production of world oil indicates that it could easily be exhausted by the year 2100-2200.  Similar predictions for coal suggest that within a few hundred years at most we will have to have alternate sources of energy to replace the fossil fuels.

a. Also since as you can see from this transparency, the USA is not particularly well endowed with oil, political problems may cut off our supply much sooner than that.

1) “The world is addicted to cheap oil, and the largest liquor stores are located in a very dangerous part of town.”

2) So far, the California and Gulf coasts have been very productive, while the Atlantic coast has come up empty.

b. Aside from this we import 50% of our oil which has a negative impact on our balance of trade.

c. Another thing to consider is the potentially devastating environmental impact of spills, well blowouts and tanker wrecks such as the infamous, EXXON VALDEZ

1) Keep in mind, however, that of the human sources of oil to the oceans, 72% comes from petroleum consumption activities such as individual car and boat owners, non-tank vessels, and runoff from increasingly paved urban areas. Surprisingly, petroleum transportation and extraction account for only 28% of human-caused oil to the oceans.

d. The reason oil is so popular is because it is so transportable.

e. We also make lots of important things (such as plastics) from petroleum products.

3. Another problem associated with the use of fossil fuels is “Global Warming”

D. Solar energy

1. A tremendous amount of heat energy from the sun is stored in the oceans because water is such an efficient absorber of heat. This energy is a renewable resource but it is not replaced instantly. The maximum rate at which we can continuously extract energy from this resource depends on the rate at which it is replaced by the Sun.


                                                                Total energy available

         Maximum rate of extraction =   --------------------------

                                                                   Replacement time


2. For this thermal component of solar energy the maximum rate of extraction is 1 X 1014 kilowatts (1000 joules/sec).  This is extremely significant because the present total world consumption of energy is 7 X 109 kilowatts.

a. Even though the machines we could construct to extract this energy are not 100% efficient this is still substantial. At even 1% efficiency we could extract 1 X 1012 kilowatts which is more than 100X the total world energy consumption.

3.  How would this energy be extracted?  Well, probably a low boiling point fluid like ammonia or a freon-substitute, which is gaseous at surface temperatures, would be pumped down to the cold, deep waters where it would condense into a liquid.  When pumped back up to the surface it would expand back to a gas and could be used to turn a turbine. This is just how a steam engine works by boiling water. After this the ammonia is recondensed down in the cold, deep waters.

a. Numerous problems such as keeping organisms from fouling the heat exchanger plates would have to be overcome but this is a very viable source of energy.

b. Also current designs need at least a 20oC temperature difference to be efficient which would limit their usefulness to within 25o of the Equator.

4.  Surface currents are another form of solar energy which could be harnessed by placing a turbine in the stream of the flowing current. To be efficient, this would require a fast-moving current such as the Gulf Stream or the Florida Current (I.E., western boundary currents). Again - worth considering

a. MRE (currents) = 1 X 10 8 kilowatts

5.  The deep currents are more voluminous but they travel so much more slowly that they are probably not a viable source.

6.  If you think about it for a minute wave energy is just a different form of solar energy because the waves are driven by the wind which in turn is generated by the differential heating of the Earth by the sun causing high and low pressure regions on the surface.

a. MRE (waves) = 1 X 1010 kilowatts.

b. Comparable to world consumption

c. Worthy of attention  


1. MRE (tides) = 5 X 10 9 kilowatts

2. Again worth considering and a tidal-driven energy unit actually exists on an estuary in France.

3. However there are significant environmental problems inherent in this source of energy because of the extensive system of dams and breakwaters necessary along coasts to use it.

4. Also, this form of energy is only practical along coasts with very large tidal ranges.

F. Salt Power

1. Nature doesn't like inhomogeneities.   If salt and freshwater are separated by a membrane permeable only to H2O and not to salts then H2O will flow from the freshwater side to the salt side to homogenize the composition.  This is driven by the very strong attraction of the salt molecules for water molecules.

2. Flow stops when seawater level is a couple hundred feet higher than freshwater and the pressure keeps freshwater flow from occurring.

a. MRE (salt) = 1 X 1010 kilowatts

3. At this time we don't know how to make semi-permeable membranes that will hold up under the rigorous conditions existing in such situations.


VII. Mineral resources  (Most are nonrenewable)

A. Annual per capita consumption of economic resources in the USA



Per Capita Consumption (kg)



Sand and gravel








Phosphate Rock


Iron and Steel













B. Locating them in the oceans is very difficult. It’s like searching for land-based deposits from a blimp 4-5 km above the surface of the Earth and in the dark. Exploiting them is also technologically difficult and much more expensive than for a land-based resource.

C. Resource categories

1. Resources taken off of the bottom of the ocean

a. Dredged = sand/gravel, calcite oozes, heavy metals

Sulfur, Phosphorite, Manganese nodules, Massive sulfides

b. Mine shafts = coal, iron

Usually just extensions of previously discovered land -based deposits

c. Pumped = oil/natural gas

2. Resources extracted from the water itself

a. NaCl, Magnesium, magnesium salts and bromine

b. Freshwater

D. Minerals in the sediments (examples of resources taken off of the bottom)

1. Sand and gravel

a. In terms of dollars, this is the most important commodity mined in the US today. Very little of it is currently mined from active marine sediments. Instead, most is mined out of old marine sediments now isolated on the continents.

2. CaCO 3 - cement

3.  Heavy metals - sands are often enriched in heavy metals such as Fe and Mn because sand is made up of the last remaining undissolved fragments of broken up rock. The heavy metals are contained in dense and resistant minerals that resist abrasion and therefore can be concentrated on relict beaches by the action of water. Being denser than the usual sand and gravel the minerals may collect in pockets, many of which prove rich enough to mine.

4. Manganese nodules (Mn for steel and also the other metals such as Fe, Ni, Co, and Cu)

a. Form by precipitation of manganese out of seawater under very specialized conditions

b. Usually in water deeper than 4 km.

c. Possibly starting dredging of ocean floor in the eastern Pacific quite soon.

5. Phosphorite (P2O5 for fertilizer and phosphoric acid)

a. Big deposit currently mined by PCS Phosphate Corporation at Aurora, N.C. on the Pamlico River was formed under the sea on the shallow continental shelf about 10 million years ago.

b. Several submarine phosphorites currently forming or surviving are known and may be exploited in future.

c. Tend to form where upwelling brings nutrient-rich water to the surface and productivity is very high.

6.  Brine Pools - along some divergent oceanic plate boundaries pools of very saline, very hot water containing sediments rich in metal sulfides have been discovered.  Their formation is related to the passage of seawater through hot submarine basalts where it is heated and scavenges metals (Cu, Pb, Zn, Au, Ag) from the basalt. In the area of the Red Sea some Arab nations are considering mining these pools.

7. Mid-ocean ridge deposits

a. Related to the same type of hydrothermal activity as brine pools.  We saw pictures of these "black smokers" in one of the movies. The smoking black chimneys are composed of metallic

sulfides and they are spewing hot (350o C) water rich in such metallic sulfides from the basalts.

b. Many of the massive sulfide deposits mined on land today such as the Japanese Kuroko deposits and some Canadian deposits were originally formed in such a deep oceanic environment.

c. There is tremendous potential for similar deposits along the mid-ocean ridges

E. Valuable commodities in solution (Examples of resources extracted from the water itself)

1. NaCl, magnesium, magnesium salts, bromine extracted from seawater by allowing it to flow into ponds and evaporate to different concentrations.

a. Used in seasoning food, construction, chemical processing and medical applications

2.  FRESHWATER - extracted by heating the seawater until evaporation begins.  ONLY THE H2O LEAVES THE SOLUTION, THE SALTS ALL STAY BEHIND. The water vapor is recondensed by cooling. If fossil fuels are used to provide the heat to initiate the evaporation the cost is exorbitantly high.  If solar energy is used it is still 3X as $ as city water supplies today.


VII. Ocean Law 

A. Historically there has not been a universally accepted "Law of the Sea".  In general the region within a few miles of the land of coastal nations has been recognized to be under their control but there was not anything official until the second half of the last century.

B. In recent decades a pressing and growing need for a universally recognized and enforced "Law of the Sea" became apparent because of:

1. Improvements in technology that have made possible exploitation of economically valuable deposits in the seas.

2. The need and capability to do extensive oceanographic research, some of which has been used as a disguise to conduct illicit military, salvage, or mining operations.

3. The need to control and define piracy which is still a real problem.

One nations' heroism is anothers' piracy.

4. The profitability of expanding fishing into waters far from the home nations.

C.  The first United Nations Conference on the “Law of the Sea” was held in 1958 and produced a treaty related to exploitation of resources on the continental shelf.   Unfortunately, the seaward limit of the continental shelf was not well defined.

D. Other less productive conferences were held until 1982 when a large majority -- 130 to 4 with 17 abstentions -- voted in favor of a new Law of the Sea convention.  Most of the developing nations, who could benefit significantly from the provisions of the treaty, voted for its adoption.  The opposition was led by the USA, who along with Turkey, Israel, and Venezuela, voted against it.   These countries support private companies planning seabed mining operations and believe certain provisions of the treaty would make such ventures unprofitable. Abstainers (most of the world’s industrialized nations): Soviet Union, Britain, Belgium, Netherlands, Italy and West Germany. After further negotiations the treaty took effect in 1994.

1. As of 1987 140 nations had signed the final act, but only 35 nations had ratified it.  Two countries with seabed mining interests and activities (Japan and France) did sign the treaty. Because it is unlikely that all dissenting and abstaining nations will ratify the treaty its ability to facilitate the exploitation of seabed resources will be severely hampered. Below are some of the problematic provisions of the treaty with respect to mining.

a. Decisions concerning all seafloor mining would be made by a newly created international mining company called “The Enterprise”, with each nation having a voting member on the Board of “The Enterprise”. This body would have strict control over private mining firms.

1) “The Enterprise” is now called the International Seabed Authority (ISA)

2) Private companies would essentially be required to fund two mining operations – their own for-profit operation and one operated by the UN.

b. Private companies working on seabed recovery would be required to sell their technology to the ISA

c. After 20 years without the approval of individual nations affected, the ISA could revise the legal-regulatory LOS framework in any way they saw fit.

d. ISA is authorized to distribute revenue from resource exploitation of the seabed of the high seas with developing nations.

e. The US administration said these provisions were unacceptable to a nation with a market economy and that such a huge, cumbersome body like the ISA could not adequately govern such a complex activity

2. Negotiations have removed some of the provisions unacceptable to free-market economies and the US signed the revised treaty in 1994, although it has yet to be ratified by Congress.

E. The primary features of the 1987 treaty:

1. Control of coastal nations

a. Defined a nation’s “Territorial Sea” as extending 12 nautical miles out from their shoreline

1) Within a nation’s territorial sea it has direct jurisdiction over all activities.

2) The right of free “and innocent” passage and transit passage is protected for all vessels within territorial seas and through straits used for international travel.

b. Defined a nation’s “Exclusive Economic Zone(EEZ) as extending 200-350 nautical miles out depending on how far their continental shelf extends. This applies to all a nation’s land holdings, including islands.

1) Within the EEZ of the 151 coastal nations they have jurisdiction over mining, fishing, scientific research, and pollution regulation.

2) Islands have extremely large EEZ zones compared to their land area.

3) The US has the largest total EEZ in part because we hold so many islands in the Pacific Ocean.

d. Everywhere in the oceans that is not within the EEZ or territorial sea of a coastal nation is called the “high seas”. This constitutes ~ 60% of the oceans.

2. All nations have the right of free “and innocent” passage outside territorial seas and through straits used for international travel (i.e., on the high seas).