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OUR SEABED FRONTIER Challenges and Choices Report of the Committee on Seabed Utilization in the Exclusive Economic Zone Marine Board Commission on Engineering and Technical Systems National Research Council National Academy Press Washington, D.C. 1989
NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the panel responsible for the report were chosen for their special competencies and with regard for appropriate balance. This report has been reviewed by a group other than the authors according to procedures approved by a Report Review Committee consisting of members of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Frank Press is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Robert M. White is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Samuel O. Their is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy's purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Frank Press and Dr. Robert M. White are chairman and vice-chairman, respectively, of the National Research Council. The program described in this report is supported by Cooperative Agreement No. 14-12-0001- 30416 between the Minerals Management Service of the U.S. Department of the Interior and the National Academy of Sciences. This project resulted from an initiative by the U.S. Geological Survey. Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 89-63099 International Standard Book Number 0-309-04126-0 Additional copies of this report are available from: National Academy Press 2101 Constitution Avenue, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20418 Printed in the United States of America. First Printing, November 1989 Second Printing, July 1990
COMMITTEE ON SEABED UTILIZATION IN THE EXCLUSIVE ECONOMIC ZONE ARMAND ]. SILVA, Chairman, University of Rhode Island KENT ~ FANNING? University of South Florida LARRY L. GENTRY, Marine Development Associates CHARLES D. HOLLISTER, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution ROBERT W. KNECHT, University of Delaware GERRY B. MANNING, AT&T Technologies DAVID B. PRIOR, Bedford Institute of Oceanography GARY L. TAGHON, Oregon State Universin~r. ALAN G. YOUNG, Fugro-McClelland Marine Geosciences, Inc. Staff Donald W. Perkins, Staff Officer Susan Garbini, Staff Officer Andrea Corell, Editor Carla D. Moore, Project Assistant . . .
MARINE BOARD SIDNEY WALLACE, Chairman, Hill, Betts & Nash, Washington, D.C. BRIAN J. WATT, Vice-Chairman, TECHSAVANT, Inc., Kingwood, Texas ROGER D. ANDERSON, Cox's Wholesale Seafood, Inc., Tampa, Florida ROBERT G. BEA, NAE, University of California, Berkeley JAMES M. BROADUS III, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, Massachusetts F. PAT DUNN, Shell Oil Company, Houston, Texas LARRY L. GENTRY, Lockheed Advanced Marine Systems, Sunnyvale, California DANA R. KESTER, University of Rhode Island, Kingston JUDITH KILDOW, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge WARREN G. LEBACK, Consultant, Princeton, New Jersey BERNARD LE MEHAUTE, University of Miami, Florida WILLIAM R. MURDEN, Murden Marine, Ltd., Alexandria, Virginia EUGENE K PENTIMONTI, American President Lines, Ltd., Oakland, California JOSEPH D. PORRICELLI, ECO, Inc., Annapolis, Maryland JERRY R. SCHUBEL, State University of New York, Stony Brook RICHARD J. SEYMOUR, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, California ROBERT N. STEINER, Operations, Atlantic Container Line, South Plainfield, New Jersey EDWARD WENK, JR., Seattle, Washington Staff CHARLES A. BOOKMAN, Director DONALD W. PERKINS, Associate Director ALEXANDER STAVOVY, Staff Officer SUSAN GARBINI, Staff Officer WAYNE YOUNG, Staff Officer PAUL SCHOLZ, Research Fellow DORIS C. HOLMES, Staff Associate AURORE BLECK, Administrative Secretary DELPHINE GLAZE, Administrative Secretary GLORIA B. GREEN, Project Assistant CARLA D. MOORE, Project Assistant
PREFACE The establishment of the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) by Presidential proclamation in 1983 "for the purpose of exploring, exploiting, conserving and managing natural resources" (see Appendix A) presents the nation with an opportunity and a challenge to wisely use its diverse resources. In addition to living resources, such as fisheries, this vast region contains extensive and potentially valuable mineral and energy resources, and is used for many other purposes, such as waste disposal, pipelines, cables, and military uses. The opportunities for resource recovery and other uses carry with them the challenge of determining the most appropriate development and management policies for such an extensive and complex area. A prerequisite to formulating adequate policies for managing this region in the nation's best interest over the long term is comprehensive understanding of the region's sediments and seabed processes. Understanding of these processes will depend on a variety of data-gathering systems and techniques. Finally, all potential uses of the region need to be determined, along with the environmental effects of these uses on the ocean's environmental systems. Following a series of exploratory discussions between the Office of Energy and Marine Geology of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and members of the Marine Board, the National Research Council appointed a committee under the Marine Board to undertake an interdisciplinary study of the EEZ seabed. The committee's objectives were to assess the state of knowledge of seafloor properties and processes as they relate to future utilization of the U.S. EEZ seabed. THE COMMITTEE Committee members were selected on the basis of their expertise in energy and mineral resource exploration and development, ocean engineering and technology, marine biology and geology, oceanography, and marine policy. The committee was assisted by liaison representatives from federal agencies conducting ocean-related programs: the United States Geological Survey (USGS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the National Science Foundation, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Bureau of Mines, the Minerals Management Service, the Navy, and the Department of Energy. The principle guiding the committee, consistent with the policy of the National Research Council, was not to exclude any information, however biased, that might accompany input vital to the study, but to seek balance and fair treatment. v
SCOPE OF STUDY The committee was charged to assess the state of knowledge of seafloor properties and processes related to future utilization of the EEZ seabed. To accomplish this goal, the committee . requirements; identified existing uses of the seabed; assessed seabed sediment characteristics and processes bearing on these uses; determined the state of practice of technologies for obtaining data about the seabed; determined potential uses of the seabed and their associated engineering and technological identified research needed to provide an improved technical basis for the use of the seabed; and · identified policy issues and actions needed to provide an improved management basis for use of the seabed. The committee interpreted these tasks broadly to include analysis of policy-related constraints and requirements for expanding EEZ uses in the future. This report does not attempt an economic analysis of resource development, except as economic considerations enter into general assessments of the potential for development of a particular resource. The focus of the report is on the existing scientific and technical data base, future needs for information, and the technologies for acquiring it. The committee's investigations focused on the EEZ seabed, which includes the zone of steep physical, biological, and chemical gradients above the sediment-water interface (order of 10 m) as well as the substrata below to the depth of use. The area adjacent to the nation's coastline called the "territorial sea" was excluded from the committee's purview because present federal and state laws and programs focus on development and management of this area. METHOD OF STUDY Following initial meetings by the committee and agency liaison representatives to identify issues to be studied, a workshop was held at Keystone, Colorado, in September 1987 to allow additional input by participants from academia and industry. In preparation for this meeting, a preliminary report was drafted by the committee to define the issues and provide a basis for discussions. During the Keystone meeting, committee members, agency liaisons, and other invited participants developed papers on 11 topics during workshops at this symposium. These papers formed the foundation for this report, along with subsequent contributions by committee members and other experts. Preliminary information from the Keystone conference was presented at the EEZ Symposium sponsored by the USGS and NOAA held in Reston, Virginia, November 17-19, 1987. Additional committee meetings were held to discuss and develop new material for the report. A working paper, prepared by the Marine Board's Committee on Technology Requirements for the EEZ Utilization was used to develop the section in this report on mineral exploration and development. The committee's findings and recommendations are based on presentations made to the committee, discussion and deliberations, and the professional experience of the committee members. Committee on Technology Requirements for the EEZ Utilization. 1987. Technology requirements for assessment and development of hard mineral resources in the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone. Working Paper. Marine Board, National Research Council, Washington, D.C. V1
ORGANIZATION OF REPORT Chapter 1 provides a historical and topical overview of the subject area. Chapters 2, 3, and 4 present detailed scientific and technical information on the seabed environment, seabed uses, and technologies for gathering data. Chapter 5 synthesizes the scientific and technical information presented in Chapters 2, 3, and 4 to provide a suggested framework for site evaluation and an overview of technology systems for investigating the seabed. Chapter 6 treats issues related to regulation and management of the EEZ and to feder,,al and state government policy in the EEZ. The major conclusions and recommendations of the committee that follow from its investigations are presented in Chapter 7. The Executive Summary provides a synopsis of the report. . - V11
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS The committee gratefully acknowledges the generous contributions of time and information provided by government liaison representatives and their agencies and the many individuals who participated in the data-gathering processes inherent to the project. The liaison representatives were Norman Caplan, National Science Foundation; Robert S. Dyer, Environmental Protection Agency; Herman Enzer, Bureau of Mines; John B. Gregory, Minerals Management Service; Joseph H. Kravitz, Office of Naval Research; Bradley J. Laubach, Minerals Management Service; Herbert Hermann, Naval Facilities Command; Millington Lockwood, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; Bonnie ~ McGregor, U.S. Geological Survey; George W. Saunders, Department of Energy; Joseph R. Vadus, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; and Raymond C. Witter, Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command. Special thanks are extended to Linda Glover, Office of the Oceanographer of the Navy, who provided technical review of the section on surveying and mapping; Dana R. Kester, University of Rhode Island, who revised the section on waste disposal; John LaBrecque, Lamont Doherty Geological Observatory, who contributed to the chapter on technology and data acquisition; George H. Ludwig, University of Colorado, who wrote the section on data management; Brian Hughes, consultant, Takoma Park, Maryland, who contributed to the section on cables and military uses; and Robert C. Tyce, University of Rhode Island, who contributed to the section on surveying and mapping. Heide Mairs, of the University of Rhode Island, offered extensive assistance in the early stages of the project. . . . vail
CONTENTS EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 1 SEABED JURISDICTION AND UTILIZATION Establishment of the EEZ, 1 Areal Definition, 1 Resource Utilization, 3 2 SEABED PROCESSES AND ACTIVITIES Seabed Characteristics, 5 External Environmental Effects, 6 Natural Seabed Processes, 9 Sediment Properties, 11 Seabed Research, 15 PRESENT AND POTENTIAL USES OF THE SEABED Oil and Gas Exploration and Development and Offshore Structures, 20 Mineral Exploration and Development, 27 Waste Disposal, 35 Cables and Military Uses, 44 Biological Resources, 51 Ocean Energy Resources, 54 Cultural and Recreational Resources, 57 4 TECHNOLOGY AND DATA ACQUISITION Surveying and Mapping, 60 Seabed Geotechnical Data, 79 EEZ Seabed Monitoring, 89 Data Management, 96 5 THE CHALLENGES OF EEZ USE ...... A Framework for Site Evaluation, 98 Technology Systems for the Seabed, 103 SummaIy, 106 LO 20 98
COORDINATION AND PLANNING ....... Regulatory Considerations, 107 Planning and Governance, 111 Coordination and Policy Considerations, 112 Summary, 114 7 CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS Coordination and Planning, 116 Specific Uses, 117 Research and Technology Development, 117 Environmental Monitoring, 118 Protection of Unique Areas, 118 REFERENCES GLOSSARY APPENDIX A THE PRESIDENTIAL EEZ PROCLAMATION APPENDIX B COMMI l l HE BIOGRAPHIES .............. APPENDIX C PARTICIPANTS OF THE WORKSHOP ON USES AND ...... TECHNOLOGY FOR THE EXCLUSIVE ECONOMIC ZONE SEABED, KEYSTONE, COLORADO x 107 116 119 131 132 135 137
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY In 1983, the United States extended its Sovereign rights and jurisdiction" over the natural resources of the ocean out to 200 nautical miles (rim). This "Exclusive Economic Zone" (EEZ) presents new opportunities and challenges for coordinating and managing exploration and development of a geographically vast (over 3 billion acres) and topographically complex frontier region. The ocean's resources are relatively untapped. The role of the oceans in transportation, communications, and disposal of waste; as a source of food, energy, and mineral resources; and as an aesthetic and recreational asset is likely to increase world wide under the pressures of demographic and economic growth. This study focuses on the present and future uses for the seabed of the U.S. EEZ, with the objective of stimulating efficient and environmentally sound utilization of its resources. The investigations of the committee resulted in two major conclusions. First, it is highly probable that the present uses of this region will increase in the next 20 years. These uses include exploration for and development of oil and gas resources, waste disposal, emplacement of cables for civilian and military purposes, harvesting of fisheries resources, recovery of certain hard minerals, and the designation of cultural and aesthetic resources, such as marine sanctuaries. Expanded use of the EEZ seabed for a broader spectrum of mineral exploration and development, other biological resources, the development of ocean energy systems and technologies, and recreational activities is less likely in the near term, but will become more important over the long term. The second major conclusion of this study is that for all foreseeable uses of the EEZ seabed, improved coordination and increased joint planning efforts among federal and state governments, industry, academia, and public interest organizations are necessary to ensure efficient orderly ~n,~it~hl~. and ``nvir~nmPn~ll` sound development of this vast region. ~... . _ _ _ ~_ } ~ _ _ ~ ^ _ ~ ~ ~ ^ ^ ~ ~--s & ~ ~ & · ~ & A ~ The utilization of the EEZ presents a variety of technological challenges. Much of the future development will depend on having the necessary tools to survey, map, probe, sample, and monitor the seabed. Improved technology will also be needed for most of the actual uses whether to mine and process minerals, bury cables and pipelines, or dispose of waste. A carefully conceived and coordinated plan for EEZ development can ensure that the United States will retain leadership in offshore technology for scientific research, resource recovers and Other loner term noti~ritiP.c while minimizing degradation of the environment. ~. ~. ~. . . ,, ~O - -- ~ 1ne exclusive economic tone Is a national resource of unprecedented dimensions. What we do in the United States EEZ over the next 10 to 30 years will have long-range economic and environmental implications not only for our nation, but for significant areas of the globe. It is clear that all future uses of the EEZ must take into account possible negative ecological impacts with a view toward managing this area in the best interests of present and future generations. X1
APPROACH OF STUDY This study assesses the state of knowledge of the seabed as related to future activities within the U.S. EEZ and concludes that all projected industrial, commercial, public, and military development prospects will require expansion of both basic and applied data about the characteristics and processes in the ocean environment and on the seabed. The frontier deepwater and arctic areas of the EEZ are especially complex, in terms of geologic settings and oceanographic conditions and processes, compared to areas where previous development activities have been conducted. Expanded utilization of these regions must be based on a thorough understanding of seabed characteristics and processes at prospective sites and the likely consequences to the environment of each use. The seabed regimes within the U.S. EEZ are composed of virtually all types of ocean seabed features and processes. The diversity of conditions, together with the remoteness of the seabed, creates a complex and challenging environment. A multidisciplinary approach is necessary to understand the seabed processes in frontier areas, to increase our knowledge about the genesis of ore bodies, and to monitor the impacts of human activities. In this report, the committee identifies the major present and potential uses of the EEZ seabed, the technical and nontechnical constraints to their development, and their likely impact on the seabed environment. Information and technology needs for each use are assessed in terms of achieving the most efficient use of existing research and technical resources and setting priorities for future research programs and technology development. Information needs for monitoring the effects of present and planned activities on the marine environment and ecosystem are also determined. The committee considered the problems associated with managing the large amounts of data gathered on the EEZ seabed and makes preliminary recommendations for ensuring the broadest accessibility and dissemination of data by all users. Management structures are proposed for planning and coordinating research and development activities in the EEZ and for resolving potential conflicts among future seabed uses. The committee also evaluates existing federal policy and regulatory frameworks with respect to their role in limiting or encouraging expanded use of the EEZ seabed. USES AND RELATED ISSUES Following are brief descriptions of present and future uses of the seabed along with summary assessments of the major technical and nontechnical issues and needs for each use area. Oil and Gas Resources In terms of strategic importance and economic value, the exploration for and production of offshore oil and gas resources will remain the most important economic activity in the U.S. EEZ into the next century. Currently, about 12 percent of total crude oil production and 25 percent of total gas production is produced offshore and it is estimated that U.S. dependence on these resources will continue to increase each year as land reserves decline. While current technology is adequate to develop nearshore oil and gas resources, many technical constraints face the offshore oil and gas industry as it moves farther onto the continental slope and into unexplored arctic regions. The environmental hazards of operating in deep and ice-infested waters are considerably greater, and overcoming them will be far more costly than previous offshore oil and gas development operations. Development of these areas will be affected not only by technical progress but also by nontechnical factors, such as fluctuating world oil prices, the impact of unstable political regimes in oil-producing countries, and a domestic regulatory climate subject to public pressure to protect offshore lease areas. Equally significant will be the extent to which government and industry . . X11
cooperate to achieve a proper balance between meeting the nation's energy needs and environmental concerns and maintaining a competitive and technically innovative domestic oil and gas industry. Mineral Resources Except for construction materials, such as sand and gravel, and some placers, it is unlikely that substantial amounts of hard mineral resources will be commercially recovered from U.S. EEZ deposits within the next decade. Depressed market prices, together with high costs of mining in marine environments, create an unfavorable economic environment for development of most seabed mineral resources. Future national needs for certain strategic materials could spur development of offshore mining industries for selected critical materials that are now imported by the United States, such as cobalt, chromium, manganese, and the platinum group metals. Because lead times of up to 15 years are required for developing commercial seabed mining systems, it seems prudent to establish the scientific and technical base necessary to assess and recover strategic or critical materials should national interests require them in the future. An integrated long-term (five to ten years) program of technology development and analysis of data base requirements is needed to perfect the tasks for comprehensive assessment of hard mineral resources in the EEZ seabed. Basic research is also needed in mineral sampling and recovery technology requirements for exploitation of deepwater deposits. Waste Disposal The coastal and ocean waters surrounding the United States have been used for disposing of municipal and industrial wastes for many years, particularly sewage sludge and dredged materials. Recent legislation places restrictions on such practices and, in some cases, requires phasing them out in the next few years. However, comparisons between land and ocean disposal options frequently indicate that marine disposal is less expensive and less environmentally damaging than land alternatives, which leads many experts to believe that marine disposal of dredged material and sewage sludge is likely to increase in the next 10 to 20 years, despite present public disapproval. Future pressures on land-based repositories may also increase incentives to explore the use of subseabed geologic formations for permanent repositories for containerized low volume. highly toxic and radioactive wastes. O , Devising environmentally acceptable ocean waste disposal strategies depends on understanding the physical and chemical oceanic processes and how they affect sedimentation and mobility of contaminants. Distinguishing and isolating contaminated from uncontaminated material and specifying appropriate disposal methods for each tvDe is another major requirement for developing sound seabed waste disposal practices. , ~ 1 "7 Innovative engineered approaches to isolating and disposing of wastes in the ocean need to be tested and evaluated through pilot or demonstration projects in order to determine their effectiveness. For instance, placement of wastes in excavated pits or trenches that are then capped by clean sediment could be one of the most effective means of isolating certain toxic materials from the food chain. Future use of the EEZ seabed for waste disposal will depend on socioeconomic pressures, innovative technologies that won't compromise the use of other marine resources, and better understanding of the processes of dispersal and deposition of waste particulates. Additionally, a comprehensive national policy for selecting long-term waste disposal strategies that includes evaluation and comparison of land- and ocean-based options and their impacts on the marine, terrestrial, and atmospheric components of the ecosystem would provide a framework for making wise choices about waste disposal. . . . x~
Communication Cables and Military Uses Increasing use of the EEZ seabed for the installation of commercial submarine cable systems and a number of military applications is driven primarily by advances in fiber optics and digital transmission, as well as improvements in the technology capability for secure emplacement of various devices in or on the seabed. Commercial communications cables constitute the majority of ocean cable installations. The military uses the EEZ as an operational arena, as a laboratory for researching, developing, testing and evaluating operational systems and techniques, and to train personnel. Military activities in the ocean are expected to continue indefinitely with cables, sensors and transducer systems likely to increase as their technological applications are improved. Geological processes and the composition of the substrate are the most crucial physical conditions affecting emplacement, maintenance, and survivability of ocean cables and seabed military systems in the EEZ seabed. Improved geophysical survey equipment, sediment sampling, and in situ testing, along with more effective procedures for interpretation of geotechnical data, would yield benefits to both military and commercial operations in the seabed. A major issue related to the expansion of military uses of the seabed is the conflict between military applications and commercial, recreational, and/or environmental interests. Military uses often preclude civilian use of an area for reasons of safety, interference, or security. An additional problem associated with military uses of the EEZ seabed has been the imposition of military classification restrictions on some categories of data. Recent changes in Navy policy have reduced some of the requirements for classification. Because of the likely expansion of the military presence in the EEZ seabed, it is important that potential conflicts with other uses be anticipated and that policies be developed for resolving them. Biological Resources Living resources associated with the EEZ seabed fall into one of two categories commercially important fishery resources and organisms of special scientific interest or of potential importance as biotechnological or genetic resources. The United States is one of the world's largest consumers and importers of seafood products. There is potential for expansion of the domestic fisheries industry into deeper waters to capture a larger share of this market. Although most experts believe that traditional fisheries are being harvested at or near maturity, some of the resources of the continental slope can be harvested by extending existing technology into deeper water. Many bacterial species found in chemically unusual marine environments are logical candidates to study for their ability to degrade toxic chemicals, and some marine benthic invertebrates are potential sources of pharmaceutical agents in the treatment of cancer, AIDS, and other diseases. Research on living marine resources needs to be focused on improving our understanding of the bases of biological productivity and its variations and the effects of human activities on these processes, especially in deep water. Newer techniques of assessing population sizes of deepwater animals and bacteria, based on remotely operated vehicles, better sensors, acoustics, and improved data interpretation may alleviate present assessment problems. Such fundamental knowledge of biological and living resource processes will contribute to expansion of domestic fisheries, to the development of new biotechnology products, and to protecting the quality of marine environments. Ocean Energy Systems Ocean energy systems and related technologies are in very early stages of development, and their commercial feasibility awaits more favorable economic conditions. The most likely candidate for development in the near future that will affect the EEZ seabed is ocean thermal energy conversion x~v
(OTEC), a process that harnesses the temperature differences between surface and deeper waters as energy. The first commercial OTEC installations will probably be shore-mounted facilities on islands with the intake pipe extended to nearby deepwater sources, possibly into the EEZ. Moored OTEC facilities will require information on the physical properties of steeply sloping seafloors that border U.S. subtropical and tropical islands and have access to deep, cold water relatively close to their shorelines. In some configurations, the electrical energy would have to be transmitted to shore by seafloor cable, creating a need for detailed seafloor information along the cable route. Commercial feasibility of any ocean energy systems depends on more favorable economic conditions than presently exist, mainly higher oil prices. These systems are therefore not likely to be developed in the near term. Cultural and Recreational Resources . Cultural and recreational resources of the EEZ include marine archaeology, treasure seeking and commercial salvage, recreation, and marine sanctuaries. It seems likely that new and improved seafloor exploration technology and availability of affordable submersibles will stimulate interest in both marine archaeology and submarine tourism. The identification and protection of unique underwater areas and habitats in U.S. waters has to date been a limited effort. In order to designate and manage a marine sanctuary, a substantial amount~of information is needed on the resources and the physical environment of the area. Federally sponsored mapping and exploration programs in the EEZ could include the identification of potential marine sanctuaries in their activities. Early identification of such areas would forestall potential conflict among competing uses by including sensitivity to environmental considerations in advance planning for the development of other resources. TECHNOLOGY AND INFORMATION ISSUES Assessment of the constraints to engineering development and the impacts of EEZ use at specific sites may require, depending on the use, a systematic, integrated approach involving investigation of oceanographic, geologic, geotechnical, and biological data to develop a site performance model for predictive capability related to a specific use or combination of uses. Such an approach could involve mapping, sampling, and measurement of seafloor conditions and processes through a variety of in situ sampling, monitoring, and laboratory techniques tailored to seabed use questions. Acquiring information essential for achieving efficient and nondestructive use of the EEZ seabed will require expanded or, in some cases, new tools and technologies for exploring and gathering seabed data. Surveying and Mapping A variety of acoustic and optical technologies are presently available for collecting bathymetry, bottom imagery, and subbottom sediment data. However, each survey system has its own operational characteristics, particularly in terms of resolution and coverage rates. Improvements are needed to make surveying methods and use of the results more efficient, particularly in balancing survey data quality with survey costs, both in dollars and in time. Additionally, the use of digital acquisition techniques and the ongoing development of real-time data image enhancement will result in improved survey and mapping effectiveness. The mapping priorities and geographic areas of interest to all potential EEZ user groups will require further definition as a first step toward cost- effective and efficient sharing of mapping activities, survey and ship time, and equipment.
Geotechnical Investigation Systems Detailed knowledge of seabed sediments will require measurements by sampling, in situ testing, and experimental testing. Various systems for data acquisition are highly developed for water depths less than 300 meters, but little development has occurred for systems that can be used in the Arctic or in offshore regions where water depths exceed 300 meters. Technology needs for geotechnical and geological data acquisition include improved sampling and in situ testing equipment for use in frontier areas, field monitoring of installations, and laboratory experimental modeling. Monitoring of the Seabed The environmental consequences of expanding activities in the EEZ seabed are difficult to predict. A monitoring program would establish environmental baseline information that could be used for such predictions. Monitoring of environmental impacts is particularly important in relation to seabed waste disposal, oil and gas exploration and production, and mining. The required monitoring will fall into three categories: (a) reference monitoring to determine the natural range and variability of environmental parameters of the EEZ seabed; (b) process-related monitoring to understand major EEZ seabed processes; and (c) use-related monitoring to evaluate the suitability of EEZ sites for specific uses and to determine their environmental consequences. Monitoring priorities and strategies should be established within the framework of a national EEZ program. Technology Development Mapping and surveying, geotechnical research, and monitoring programs will benefit from expansion of existing technology or development of new equipment and techniques for gathering data on the seabed. Efficiency of present activities related to mapping and surveying the EEZ can be improved through application of existing and emerging technologies and optimization of their use. New tools can be developed to directly indicate the presence of valuable resources and to monitor processes. Monitoring capabilities would be improved by the ability to record data from buoys using satellites. Technology development for acquiring information must be closely related to plans for utilizing the EEZ seabed. Requirements for data and specifications for equipment to acquire, manage, and analyze such data need to be defined in terms of specific user needs. The complexity, cost, and time frames required to improve existing technology and develop new data acquisition systems for EEZ frontier areas will require prioritization of needs for technology development based on a cooperative planning effort among academia, industry, and the federal government. GOVERNANCE AND POLICY ISSUES The variety of uses envisioned and the amount of data and information needed to plan and manage the rational conservation and development of the EEZ seabed require joint planning and coordination by government, industry, and academia. Effective and efficient programs for systematic mapping and surveying, development of technology to gather seabed data, identification and resolution of potential use conflicts, and development of approaches for multiple uses of certain areas depend on successful cooperation among a broad range of public and private entities with varied views. XVI
A broad foundation will be necessary upon which to build an institutional framework capable of developing and managing the EEZ seabed resources. Such a framework needs to be based on a commitment to a national EEZ seabed plan that delineates programs for basic and applied research, technology development, and industrial and environmental policy developed in cooperation and consultation with representatives of state and federal agencies, marine industries, research institutions, and public interest groups. RECOMMENDATIONS The study resulted in ten recommendations on general and specific issues related to future uses of the seabed; research, information and technology needs; environmental concerns; and coordination and planning The committee's formal conclusions and recommendations are presented in Chapter 7. The committee recommends creating a national joint planning and coordination process for the EEZ; pursuing federal and state agreements for planning and implementing EEZ activities; designing policies and research programs specifically addressing development of hard mineral resources; 4. formulating a comprehensive national waste management policy that includes ocean disposal options; 5. designating an agency to coordinate EEZ seabed research activities; 6. establishing a formal government/industty/academia EEZ program for determining priorities for seabed surveying and mapping, and for developing technology related to these activities; 7. developing technology necessary to gather geotechnical and geological data related to projected uses of the EEZ; 8. fostering exchange of data through a comprehensive data management system; 9. establishing a national EEZ environmental monitoring program; and 10. identifying unique areas of the seafloor that deserve long-term protection. . . XV11