UK Deep-Sea Mining (DSM) Environmental Science Network

The Network aims to form a multidisciplinary group of UK scientists to cover as much environmental science expertise relevant to DSM as possible.   

The UK Deep-Sea Mining Environmental Science Network is run by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).


The deadline for the first round of applications to join the Network will close on Monday 8 April 2024. Defra will consider your application and let you know if you have been successfully accepted into the Network as soon as possible.  

The first meeting of the Network is expected to be in May or June 2024. We will release the exact date as soon as possible. Stay up to date with this page where the date will be shared. 

Aims of the Network 

The Network’s scope covers environmental science that can help with understanding the potential environmental impacts of DSM.

The Network aims to: 

  • recognise and promote the extensive and world-renowned UK expertise in environmental and natural science related to deep-sea mining   
  • help to coordinate research effectively and strategically 
  • make sure UK research is included in the global environmental evidence base for DSM, so that UK research can contribute to filling gaps in the evidence base and help decisions on DSM to be made with enough scientific evidence to fully understand the potential environmental impacts of deep-sea mining 
  • encourage conversation between the government and the scientific community to raise awareness and coordination between DSM science and policy environmental issues 

The Network will be a space where: 

  • the UK environmental science community who are working on matters relevant to understanding the potential environmental impacts of DSM to discuss, and encourage the strategic collaboration of research with each other 
  • the government and the Network have direct and quick access to the latest and upcoming environmental science in the UK related to deep-sea mining 
  • scientists have direct and quick access to the latest perspectives from international negotiations on environmental matters related to DSM (through HMG updates), so that members can choose to align their research 

The Network will also:  

  • provide valuable input to help Defra collect and share UK research in this area with the International Seabed Authority (ISA), so that UK research contributes to the global environmental evidence base and informs ISA negotiations and management  
  • nominate relevant UK experts from the Network to international workshops on DSM environmental matters, where appropriate 

The Network will not be responsible for developing policy or providing advice or recommendations to government or ministers. 

Membership criteria 

Network members will be part of and contribute to the Network as individual experts, not as representatives of their employer or any interest group. 

To be accepted to the network, you need to follow the terms of the network, and demonstrate that you: 

  • are working at and/or funded by a UK-registered entity or entities - such as an institution, organisation or company 
  • have an academic or equivalent qualification (level 6 and above) in environmental, natural, or earth science  
  • have recent academic or work experience (within the past 10 years) that is directly relevant or transferable to the environments associated with deep-sea minerals (such as biological, ecological, physical, chemical, oceanographic or geological expertise, including transferable expertise within these fields, for example from shallow water or other relevant industries) 

The process is not competitive and there is no limit to the number of experts that can join the Network. 

Registration to the network  

Find the application form and guidance on how to fill it out. Members are registered for 1 year at a time.  

Every year Defra will ask members to reconfirm their registration to the group and update their relevant experience and qualifications where appropriate. If the member demonstrates they still meet the criteria for the Network they will be registered for another year. There is no limit to the number of years of membership to the Network. 

You can fill out and submit the application form at any time. However, Defra will confirm membership at certain dates that will be published on this page. 

Members responsibilities  

Members must:  

Any behaviour that goes against these principles will mean your membership is stopped.   

Defra reserves the right to terminate membership immediately if a member: 

  • breaches any of the terms of the Network 
  • has a change in circumstance which means they no longer meet the qualifying criteria 
  • engages in any other activity that may harm the reputation of Defra, the Network or another member 

If your membership is terminated, you can still re-apply to the Network in the future but Defra reserves the right to refuse future membership based on any prior termination. 

Main point of contact 

The Secretariat is the main contact point for members. Email

Ways of Working 

Defra will manage the Network’s admin functions.  

The Centre for Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas) and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee will provide input and advice to Defra on the Network activities. Other relevant government departments and their relevant arms-length bodies may attend Network activities. 

Defra will manage a mailing list for the Network to give relevant updates to members. 


The Network members will meet at least once a year. There will likely be at least one meeting a year in-person with the aim of an online option, and more online meetings. Members are encouraged to attend meetings, but you do not have to attend to keep your membership. 

Defra will make a chair for each meeting and will set the agenda. Before the meeting, Defra will ask Network members for ideas for the meeting. After each meeting, Defra will send a summary report of the meeting. 

Defra may have more meetings, workshops, or webinars as part of the Network on a case-by-case basis. Defra may invite other relevant experts, disciplines or interests that are not part of the Network to give relevant information to the group. 

Network members may request more meetings, workshops, working groups, webinars and presentations on specific topics. Defra will consider the requests, and deliver where practical and there is clear value to the Network’s activities. 

Defra may share the outcomes from workshops and webinar content to interested parties where appropriate. 

Sharing activities of the Network  

The Secretariat will be the primary spokesperson for any contact with the media about the Network.  

Chatham House rules will apply to discussions in the Network, unless otherwise stated. For example, webinars may be made public where appropriate, which would include the name and affiliation of speakers. 

Where Defra collates and shares any research and publications, Defra will not be in any way responsible or liable for the content of output shared by Members. By sharing any research and publications Defra is not approving or agreeing with the content, and will not review and verify any contents. Defra carries out these actions as part of its secretarial role in the Network only. 

Anything regarding Network activities in a recorded format is subject to the statutory requirements of the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 and the Freedom of Information Act 2000. Decisions on the release of such recordings (for example papers and proceedings of Network activities, including Network membership and attendance), will be guided by statutory requirements of the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 and the Freedom of Information Act 2000. Personal data will be used in line with the Privacy Notice agreed to by members at point of application for registration to the Network, in line with the General Data Protection Regulation, the Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA 2018). 

Remuneration and expenses 

There is no funding for being part of the Network.  

There may be some funding for travel and food to attend in-person meetings. If there is any funding, it will be decided on a case by case basis. Priority will likely be given to early career researchers. 

Currently, there is no funding available for any activities associated with the Network. 

Changes to these terms 

Defra will review these terms (including the purpose, membership and ways of working) of the group at least once every 2 years. As part of this review, Defra will take in the views of the members. The review could mean that the Network is stopped, or a different group is created.  

The terms may change, so stay up to date with this page.

Contact details