Dozens of world leaders from 55 countries descended on the Port of Brest in France this week for the One Ocean summit, an unprecedented international political meeting to address a wide range of pressing maritime issues, from overfishing to plastic pollution to piracy.

But one issue – seafloor mining – seemed to hog the attention. French President Emmanuel Macron has tentatively given his support – and over €300 million in funding – to the idea, identifying seabed exploration as an investment priority for France, highlighting the potential of gaining access to “rare metals” as well as a better understanding of marine ecosystems.

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