Legislation passed unanimously today by the Senate would ban seabed mining, a growing industry that ravages natural habitat to extract minerals and deposits from the ocean floor.

“So far, seabed mining has not been practiced in our state, and this legislation will ensure that it never is,” said Sen. Kevin Van De Wege, (D-Sequim), the bill’s sponsor. “It’s a destructive process that literally sucks up the ocean floor, wreaking havoc on habitat and marine life.”

Seabed mining captures metals, minerals and gemstones by gouging the seabed, creating plumes of sediment that resettle in surrounding areas and can smother deep sea vents and the species that depend on them.

“This is a threat not just to marine life but to scientific progress in many important areas,” Van De Wege said. “Many ocean-floor species are uniquely adapted to the lack of sunlight and intense pressure of deep water, and their study could prove critical to the research and development of medicines, protective gear and other applications.”

Senate Bill 5145 would prohibit the state Department of Natural Resources from issuing permits or leases for mining  on state-owned aquatic coastlands from Cape Flattery south to the state’s southern border, as well as in Grays Harbor, Willapa Bay, and the Columbia River downstream from the Longview bridge.