Latest News and Updates

3 Aug 2022

Trinidad and Tobago

  • The delegation stated that “Speed should not take precedence over quality. Regulations should not be adopted in an attempt to meet a deadline.”

Holy See

  • The Holy See stated that “The words of Pope Francis are pertinent here as well. And I quote, since everything is closely interrelated and today’s problems call for a vision capable of taking into account every aspect of the global crisis, I suggest that we consider some elements of an integral ecology, one which clearly respects its human and social dimensions.”

Chile

  • Chile stated that “for reasons of transparency that auditing should not be monopolised by one firm. Chile requests that the Assembly should make a decision, as recommended by Finance Committee, a UN board of auditors be used. More will have to be paid to do so.  Chile would like to see reduction in expenses to allow more funding to hire UN board of auditors and respond to transparency requirements called for by taxpayers.”
  • The Secretary General stated that “the audit for this year 2022 will be carried out by Ernst & Young, who have already been appointed as the auditor and the contract in place.”
  • Chile stated on their proposal for a discussion on the two year rule that their proposal “is subject to discussion and some countries have objected, such as Tonga and Nauru. Under the rules of procedure we believe a secret vote would go against what we aspire to. Chile would like to evoke article 12 as established practice for issues which are urgent and important. This is an important and urgent item.”
  • On Belgium’s proposal (detailed below), Chile stated that contractor “motives are very different to most of the other observers whose primary objective is to think about common heritage.”

Monaco

  • Stated that capacity development is an obligation, not a choice. “Capacity building and training are extremely important because they are currently insufficiently implemented.
    The realization of the objective of sustainable exploitation of the area will depend on our level of scientific knowledge. Without solid scientific basis, no action is possible in that realm.”
  • They added that “The Principality of Monaco will play its role to the full because capacity development requires adequate implementation of indeed the legal order we’re defining in order to facilitate exploitation that is safe in the area with regard to resources on the ecosystems.”

Senegal

  • Stated “The richness of the area involves an obligation to preserve and protect this common heritage of mankind. Activities undertaken in the area of scientific research in the area, as well as exploration exploitation call for thorough knowledge, with a view to having sustainable development of the deep sea.”
  • They added that “Today in the fisheries sector it’s worth recognizing the existence of fishing techniques that have negative consequences on the deep seabed. On this point we support the implementation of REMPS.”

Belgium

  • Belgium Introduced “proposed amendments to the Rules of Procedure – this rule stipulates who can participate as an observer in the Assembly and the Council of the Assembly”
  • The delegation proposed that “contractors be given the same rights as observers as NGOs and civil society.”
  • Belgium also stated “We encourage the NGOs also to associate themselves to increase the efficiency of the meetings.”

Australia

  • Stated that “this may risk a conflict of interest in ISA processes.”
  • “We recognise that there is currently no industry group representing DSM, but there is no obstacle to one being formed.”

Russia

  • The Russian federation supported Belgium’s proposal on contractors.

Argentina

  • Stated that they had doubts on the Belgian proposal and that in the Authority there is special representation of the States that have carried out the greatest efforts for development of activities in area and therefore their interests are already represented. They also raised questions on the potential conflicts of interest and stated “We are not in favour of including contractors as observers in the interests of the Authority.”

Tonga

  • Stated that they are not supporting Belgium’s proposal but do do see merit in the proposals and would be interested in the proposals from Australia and the Netherlands.

Canada

  • Stated that “maybe we should consider the possibility that the contractor intervenes individually, therefore with an amendment to the rules of procedure.”

Pakistan

  • Stated that “contractors must not be given the right to speak as individuals, given the stakes they hold in the discussion.

Nauru

  • Noted the above proposal and supported it.

Italy

  • Shared concerns about possible conflicts of interest regarding Belgium’s proposal.

UK

  • Stated with regard to the Belgium proposal – “We acknowledge the point made by observers and note that they all have their own policy positions as well in relation to the interventions which they make as well.”
1 Aug 2022

Acting Assembly President

  • “Stated that he Common heritage of mankind belongs to all of us. The eyes of civil society are on us also, and thank and encourage them to continue to engage while respecting our rules.”

ISA Secretary General

  • Stated that “…the council meeting worked very well and was quite a seamless experience for delegates despite technical challenges.”

Chile

  • Stated that “We all know that there’s an elephant in the room… and we have not had the opportunity to debate in person and I believe this is the best opportunity to discuss here in the assembly. I believe that more than taking a decision, we need to hear one another and present various ideas in order to find what to do next. We are less than a year away from the deadline mentioned in Part 15 of the implementation agreement, of Part 11 of UNCLOS, and this is why we decided rather than waiting until next year, that we need to consider to  discuss this now and present our ideas on what we hope to do.”

Costa Rica

  • Supported Chile’s proposal, “with enthusiasm” stating that “Since this is a matter that many of us have mentioned in our interventions, we’ve never had a specific space to discuss it. Time is running out, we have a deadline that some consider that some consider meaningful and others not, and we are making efforts to develop regulations, but all of us in the council noted there is a lot more work to do.”
  • Called for strengthening of ocean governance in and beyond national jurisdiction and that they look forward to BBNJ treaty .
  • The delegation stated their commitment to continue to constructively engage in ISA negotiations to develop a solid, fair, environmentally sound regulations that guarantees protection of marine environment as per Article 145.

Nauru

  • Stated that “Chile’s submission for this discussion will derail the 27th session and the roadmap” and that the delegation are cognisant that “there may come a time to discuss this, but Chile’s position will lead to polarization and politicising of Nauru’s legal right to exploration and exploitation, especially as a pacific state, we cannot support this inclusion, there are elements we need to counter, and we have not prepared.”

Spain

  • Supported the inclusion of Chile’s proposed agenda item on the two year rule stating that “It seems to me that it is always good to speak as this strengthens transparency and increases visibility. The goal isn’t to reach position, but to exchange opinions.”

UK

  • The UK delegation stated that the discussion on ‘what if’ scenarios was scheduled by the Council for the 31st of October to November meeting and that has been in the roadmap since December.

Tonga

  • Tonga stated that they “had not had ample time to coordinate this request with capital, so there is a sense of uneasiness, without receiving proper direction, however I recognize the intent of the proposal is to open discussion but we recognize that we are still in the middle of two year rule so there is still time to take action. I feel that in due course we will have to come to that in terms of trying to force the way forward after the two year period.”
  • They also stated that sea levels will continue to rise and that SIDS more vulnerable with current baselines threatened.

Brazil

  •  Stated that Chile’s proposal was important and that they “believe it is important to include it in the agenda because the time has come, maybe not to discuss in depth, but to discuss methods and a way to move forward with this so therefore the Brazil delegation would like to support the proposal to include the topic.” They highlighted the need for greater understanding of human activities on the ocean and full transparency.
  • They also called for promotion of deep sea literacy and “fundamental steps towards strengthening the ISA role in the ocean global governance.”
  • The delegation added that “A robust code of conduct, standard & guidelines must be put in place before any activity is approved. Interrelated with ISA mandate. The ISA needs to ensure coherence between our mission and the evolution of international law, for example BBNJ. “

China

  • Called to improve ISA regime and that the development of regulations is a priority. The delegation added that regulations need to balance exploitation and protection based on scientific facts and evidence, strengthen and improve regime 
  • China also called for the promotion of the sustainable development of the seabed, which cannot be achieved without progress of science, orderly use of resources, sharing of benefits, collaboration and solidarity.

Monaco

  • Stated that “these resources can be exhausted, even if technology can allow for their extraction it could lead to risks.”

Canada

  • Stated that they are seeking the conclusion of a BBNJ treaty in 2022 and are committed to the development of robust regulations of mineral resources that ensures effective protection of marine environment and sound governance.

Russia

  • The Russian delegation stated that “Along with Antarctic, atmosphere and space, the world ocean became a sphere where internationl governance has been imposed. Large reserves of mineral resources – development potential not fully realised. Minerals such as nodules are only found in the oceans. Will lead to meeting demand of whole range of industries and facilitate more friendly sources of energy.”

UK

  • Stated that the health of the ocean has been significantly degraded due to human action including by industries directly regulated by UNCLOS.

Italy

  • The delegation stated that the supply of raw materials, energy, prospects for economic growth largely depends on the sea.
  • Italy stated that they are strongly committed to the sustainable use of maritime resources and creation of regulation system for exploitation of resources of Area, an ecosystem-based approach and the precautionary principle.

Burkina Faso

  • Called to make sure framework at service of protection of common heritage of humankind for future generations.

Togo

  • Togo stated the need to establish legal order to facilitate activities linked to the sea, conservation of marine resources and protection of the environment.

The Dominican Republic

  •  Highlighted the need to consider the common heritage of humankind while guaranteeing equitable distribution of benefits based on needs of countries.

Portugal

  • The delegation stated that future generations’ wellbeing is linked to wellbeing of oceans.

25 Jul 2022

New Zealand

  • The delegation stated: ” New Zealand shares the concerns that others have expressed about the prospect of deep-sea mining occurring before we have appropriate safeguards in place. This includes robust regulations that ensure the effective protection of the marine environment and sufficient scientific knowledge of the deep ocean, which would allow for robust assessment of the environmental effects of this activity.”
  • “It is New Zealand’s view that mining cannot and should not take place in the absence of these safeguards. New Zealand agrees with those who have expressed the view that paragraph 15 of Section One of the annex to the 1994 agreement does not require the council to adopt exploitation regulations at the end of the two year period. Nor does that require the council to automatically approve a plan of work at that time. Rather, this provision requires the council to make best endeavours to complete regulations within the prescribed timeframe. If that work remains unfinished at the end of the two year deadline, the council was not required to adopt regulations that remain incomplete.”
  • “In saying this, New Zealand will continue to work in good faith in the development of regulations with a strong view to ensuring that any regulations adopted above all ensure the effective protection of the marine environment.”
  • The delegation stated that “Test mining itself is likely to result in harm to the environment. In fact, to understand potential effects, it’s almost necessary that it will result in some harm.”
  • The delegation called for the word “serious” to be deleted from regulations, commenting that serious harm is too high a threshold.
  • New Zealand suggested a proactive approach to prevent unplanned events and that regulations currently only require monitoring and mitigation if harm or serious harm has already occurred, which may be too late.

Mexico

  • Mexico stated that “…Participation by an independent experts should not mean the responsibility is transferred from the contractor. It must be accountable for implementation and any insufficiencies in terms of that implementation. Mexico is not in favour of the plans being of the responsibility of the authority or third party. This is in line with the results based approach under which this draft regulation comes in, which is supported by delegation. In the same vein, my delegation stresses the importance of ramps before expedition activities understand that the planning activities cannot be started unless there’s a ramp in place in the area.”

Chile

  • In line with interventions from France, Chile stated that “All this information must be transparent, published in a legible manner. We’ve had conversations with scientific experts present at ISA meetings, and many of them are not able to read the Deep Data information. I thought it was just me because I’m a bureaucrat… but the scientists themselves can’t either, so something is happening there. We are not fulfilling the responsibility under UNCLOS to publish in a transparent and understandable way the information we are compiling to the scientific community. The information is collected and provided, but we are falling down somewhere. We must fulfil our responsibilities under UNCLOS in this regard and provide the information that is required.”
  • The delegation called to include marine litter and underwater noise in regulations.
  • Chile called to delete the word ‘serious’ from regulations.

Costa Rica

  • The delegation called for “evaluation by independent experts” and called for evaluation to “cover the whole life cycle of contract.”
  • Costa Rica warned that recent studies have shown that underwater noise as a result of deep-sea mining problem is larger than we previously thought.
  • The delegation supported only using the word harm in regulations in line with Art. 145 to prevent “harmful effects” on the marine environment.
  • Costa Rica called for independent auditors to be used.
  • Costa Rica stated that the issue of effective control is vital.

Trinidad and Tobago

  • Called for consideration to be “given to ecological characteristics and recovery time when considering time for independent monitoring.”
  • The delegation supported others in removing the word ‘serious’ from regulations.

United States

  • The delegation called for independent monitoring in addition to monitoring undertaken by contractors and that “the monitoring conducted by the contractor is to occur for the entire duration of the exploitation phase of the mining operation.”

Canada

  • The Canadian delegation raised concerns that test-mining “should not be used as a form of disguised exploitation.”

France

  • The French delegation stated that test mining should be conducted in an area that reflects the zone of future exploitation.
  • The delegation called for regulations to include marine litter and noise, hazards that are now better documented.
  • France called for more clarity on how independent auditors will be chosen by the ISA.

United Kingdom

  • The UK delegation called for test mining to be regulated and have an EIA
  • The delegation also commented that if you go test mining and it doesn’t show harmful effects, then you have effectively checked a box, but the effects of any test mining need to be fed into the larger process (EIAs and EIS) to ensure no harm is done.

Italy

  • Italy called for test mining to be subjected to “robust environmental impact assessment procedures, similar to those envisaged in the exploitation regulations.”
  • The delegation requested to keep marine litter and underwater noise in regulations as these are emerging threats to the underwater environment.

Argentina

  • Called for reference to chemical pollution

Spain

  • Spain requested that noise and litter be included in regulations, which were “particularly important for the fishing sector.”
  • Called for Auditors to be independent so that assessment is rigorous and useful.

Monaco

  • The delegation called to maintain references to noise & marine litter which could be generated by mining activities.

Federated States of Micronesia

  • The delegation proposed “inserting a reference to the coastline in this draft regulation, because in article 145, which talks about the prevention, reduction, and control of pollution and other hazards associated with activities in the area, it does reference the coastline in connection with the marine environment.”
  • FSM supported other delegations who called for removal of “serious” before harm. They asked delegations to consider the use of “serious harm” in other parts in draft regualtions.

Ghana (on behalf of African Group)

  • The delegation called for the deletion of “serious” so that regulations encompass all harmful effects.

Australia

  • Australia supported New Zealand’s proposal to delete ‘serious’ before the word ‘harm’ in regulations.

Russia

  •  Asked who would pay for damage to the marine environment if a contractor doesn’t have any funds to cover the damage.
20 Jul 2022

Canada

  • Canada opened the day’s session by stating that they “Would like to confirm that there will be web transmission today” to which the Chair confirmed that WebTV was on.

France

  • France began by stating that they were attached to the ISA’s mandate of “managing protecting and using the resources of the area which are a common heritage of humanity, as well as its action, which has allowed for the conservation of the seabed and regulating the access and banning any activity which will lead to destruction of ecosystems”.
  • They went on to add that “we are all aware that our organization needs to heed the alarm bells that were launched in Lisbon.”
  • They highlighted that “we need to maintain dialogue with civil society” and the “crucial importance that we give to the measures pertaining to environmental protection and to protecting biodiversity.” They added that “from this point of view the Lisbon UN Conference on oceans that happened in June makes us think that there is a before Lisbon after Lisbon.”
  • France stated that they the adoption of a strong legal framework “is a prior condition before we authorize any plan of work.”
  • The delegation added that they wanted to remind that “it it has never interpreted the rule of the two years in June 2021 for the adoption of the mining code between now and June 2023 as an obligation for the Council to approve temporarily and automatically any plan of work which would be presented before as soon as of July 2022. It does not seem to be acceptable to authorise a plan of work to put exploitation of the resources in the area without a legal framework solid at protecting the marine environment and ensuring a sustainable use of the resources to the benefit of humanity as a whole and by banning any project which would lead to irrevocable destruction of the marine environment.”

Monaco

  • “I would like to support the French Declaration and say that the intervention of the ISA is in a field that is not explored enough and we are therefore convinced that scientific research and precautionary approach should lead us.”

Indonesia

  • The delegation highlighted the need to “involve coastal states whose interests are affected by deep-sea mining”. 

Costa Rica

  • Costa Rica highlighted that a Compliance Committee “should be established before the first exploitation contract is signed, for obvious reasons.”