Prophetic eco-novel republished nearly 40 years on

Alex Finer is author of Deepwater

Alex Finer is author of Deepwater - Credit: Alex Finer

As calls grow for a ban on deep-sea mining, a Hampstead writer has re-released his prophetic novel.

Techno-thriller Deepwater by Alex Finer looks at the inherent dangers from deep-sea mining that now threaten the planet.

The book was first published back in 1983, has been republished by Lume Books, with renewed relevance.

Alex said: “When I wrote my book I invented a harvester tractor that sort of sucked these minerals from the deep, along a three-mile pipeline, which is what you need because it's that deep, and brought up a bug in along with it, in which mankind has no protection against."

These vehicles and pipelines now exist, as various countries search the ocean floor for nickel, cobalt, and other rare minerals.

“There's been exploration for the last, I don't know, 10-15 years," said Alex. "And this has been under licences granted by a UN body. But the firing gun has been fired in the South Pacific island called Nauru.

"Nauru announced in June that it will start to mine, and it all gets a little complicated, but the UN issue licences and they now have to issue an exploitation licence, rather than just an exploration one."

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He added: "Within two years they’ll be chewing up the seabed for one of the world's last major mineral resources.”

Alex is not the only one concerned with Nauru’s plans. Scientists, non-governmental organisations, and figures such as David Attenborough all oppose deep-sea mining. Mr Attenborough argues argues that it is “beyond reason for countries to be considering the destruction of deep sea places before they have understood them or the role they play in the health of the planet”.

This year’s International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Conservation Congress was held earlier this month in Marseille and saw the adoption of Motion 69, a global moratorium on deep-sea mining. 

This came as welcome news to conservationists who say there is not yet sufficient evidence about the potential impact of the activity on deep sea ecosystems.

Alex says the republication of his book will provide a context to raise public awareness about the dangers of deep-sea mining, and hopes his story will one day be turned into a film.