The Deep Sea Conservation Research Unit provides the science to support the sustainable management and conservation of the deep-sea and High Seas.

The demand for resources to support the growing human population is only set to continue to rise; food in the form of fish and shellfish, energy in the form of oil, gas, wind and wave, and raw materials such as gold, copper, zinc and manganese.  As terrestrial and coastal resources dwindle, we are increasingly looking to the deep sea to meet that demand. Fishing now extends to depths of up to 2km below the sea surface, while oil extraction occurs down to 2.5km. An area of the deep sea bed the size of Turkey has recently been licenced for deep-sea mining, and commencement of mining at hydrothermal vents is imminent. Horizon scanning, the use of the deep-sea as a region for renewable energy generation and aquaculture development is not as far-fetched as some may think. Pilot projects such as the Poseidon floating power plant, and the Velella Mariculture Research Project provide us with a glimpse of what may be possible in the future. Set this potential exploitation against the reality that the deep-sea remains the least explored, least understood ecosystem on our planet, and you have the potential makings of unsustainable industrial development to the detriment of the deep-sea ecosystem, and ultimately to the human population. What we do know about the deep sea ecosystem suggests it is highly vulnerable to disturbance with little ability to resist or recover from damage.

Our aim is to ensure that rigorous scientific advice is available to policymakers when it is called for through undertaking cutting-edge interdisciplinary research and bridging the gap between academic theory and practical application.

DeepSeaCRU is part of the Marine Institute at Plymouth University and is an academic research group led by Dr Kerry Howell, an expert in deep-sea ecology and marine conservation. We work globally with academic researchers, policy advisory bodies, non-governmental organisations, and ocean management bodies.