The deep sea may soon be up for grabs

Vast, dark and largely unexplored, the overlooked parts of the oceans are rich in marine life, gems, metals, minerals and oil. With an estimated 10 billion tonnes of marine life, including fish, shrimp and squid, these depths offer a seemingly endles
Vast, dark and largely unexplored, the overlooked parts of the oceans are rich in marine life, gems, metals, minerals and oil. With an estimated 10 billion tonnes of marine life, including fish, shrimp and squid, these depths offer a seemingly endless bounty. That is why fishing nations are looking closely at this region of the sea.PHOTO: REUTERS

Commercial fishing and mining operations are eyeing the dark and mostly unexplored reaches of the oceans

The rush to exploit the riches of the deep ocean and sea floor is beginning. As pollution, overfishing and climate change sap the productivity of surface waters, many countries and companies are scouting new territory deeper down. This presents a threat the deep ocean has never faced.

Vast, dark and largely unexplored, these overlooked parts of the oceans are rich in marine life, gems, metals, minerals and oil. Stretching from 200 to 980 metres below the surface, the mesopelagic - known as the twilight zone because there is so little sunlight - is the first stop for deep ocean exploitation.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on June 24, 2018, with the headline 'The deep sea may soon be up for grabs'. Print Edition | Subscribe