Fri | Dec 1, 2023

Dahvia Hylton on a mission to prevent an environmental disaster

Published:Friday | July 21, 2023 | 12:09 AMChristopher Serju/Senior Gleaner Writer
Dahvia Hylton leads climate advocates in a protest yesterday against Deep Sea mining at the Kingston, Waterfront, adjacent to the Jamaica Conference Centre.
Dahvia Hylton leads climate advocates in a protest yesterday against Deep Sea mining at the Kingston, Waterfront, adjacent to the Jamaica Conference Centre.

The agenda of the 28th session of the International Seabed Authority Assembly and Council, taking place in jamaica, has drawn the ire of a local civil society group bent on lobbying for a halt to any plan for deep sea mining.

The meeting of the council has been taking place from July 10 and is scheduled to end tomorrow, while the assembly is slated to meet from July 24-28 and the protest action was designed to draw attention to the potentially devastating fallout from the main agenda item.

“We are concerned for the environment because they are having meetings right now to decide on deep sea mining, which is a new extractive industry, and we are trying to stop it before it starts,” spokeswoman Dahvia Hylton told The Gleaner.

She is concerned that the International Seabed Authority (ISA) is preparing to begin granting a new round of licences to countries to mine specific areas of the ocean floor to extract valuable minerals. This, even though there is the promise of a regulatory framework which will guide the intrusive activities that will be necessary to disturb and disrupt one of the largest unmapped and unexplored areas of Earth. Such a disruption could have a devastating environmental impact and result in other repercussions for all citizens of the world.

More data needed

For Hylton, not enough work has been done to inform a regulatory framework.

“There is no way to get that framework in place without the data, so we need more time to get the necessary data to inform decisions and, for that, we need a moratorium or a pause.

“If you are going to take action without information, your actions will be misinformed and so you are likely to create catastrophe, because information is what helps people to protect the environment and that’s where environmental impact assessments (EIA) come in.

“Any industry that is just starting has the burden of creating that bank of information to let us know how they are going to start it,” she declared.

Teeming with life, the risk of annihilation of the range of marine species representing life in so many varied forms on the sea bottom is too scary to even contemplate, according to the protester.

“Each day, we are discovering new species down there. Some could have the cure for cancer, for all we know, because we don’t know enough. There is also the fact that oceans provide a carbon-mitigating effect. So, without that, how will we weather climate change? You have been seeing the record heatwaves which keep getting hotter, and it is getting worse. So, how do we expect to fight climate change without our ocean and the climate mitigation that it affords us; the carbon sequestration that it affords us?” she asked.

She further argued that she felt it was foolhardy, in light of what is happening in terms of the emerging fallout from climate change, for humanity to continue down the road of extraction, overproduction and overuse.

She charged that the ISA has mapped an area out in the deep sea larger than Canada, which is already targeted for mining. This is an area which she claims has more marine biodiversity than anywhere else on Earth.