The Council made progress on the draft exploitation regulations, while recognizing the need for further work on the payment mechanism, environmental protection, and the Enterprise.
In addition, delegates expanded the mandate of the Special Representative for the Enterprise.
The Earth Negotiations Bulletin coverage of the first part of the 25th session of the International Seabed Authority (ISA) Council refers to the Council’s work and the potential impacts of deep-seabed mining as “a dive into unknown waters.”
During the first part of the 25th Session of the International Seabed Authority (ISA), which began with the Council meeting from 25 February – 1 March 2019, in Kingston, Jamaica, delegates continued the process of tackling the “herculean task of building the legal, institutional, and economic frameworks of an unprecedented expedition.” Delegates are working on draft regulations on exploitation of mineral resources in the “Area,” which will govern future relevant activities in the oceans. The outcome of their deliberations need to ensure environmental protection while also balancing stakeholders’ interests.
The meeting at the end of February 2019 involved fruitful exchanges as the Council addressed the draft exploitation regulations on deep-seabed mining with regard to:
- the financial model;
- standards, guidelines, and key terms;
- the precautionary approach;
- regional environmental management plans (REMPs);
- the independent assessment of environmental plans; and
- the inspection mechanism.
The Council further considered:
- the report on matters relating to the Enterprise, an organ foreseen in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) as the Authority’s own mining arm;
- status of contracts for exploration and related matters; and
- cooperation with other international organizations.
The ENB summary of the meeting indicates that the Council “made progress on the draft exploitation regulations, while recognizing the need for further work on the payment mechanism, environmental protection, and the Enterprise.” Delegates agreed to extend and expand the mandate of the Special Representative for the Enterprise, establishing a voluntary trust fund to support his work.
ISA Secretary-General Michael Lodge suggested that delegates should “start thinking about the ISA’s next 10-15 years,” and acknowledged that much work needs to be done now for the Authority and its organs to fulfill their mandates. [ENB reporting on the Council meeting]