24th annual session of the ISA

Nadine Le Bris and Jérôme Dyment, co-chairs of InterRidge, attended the 24th Session of the Council of International Seabed Authority that took place in Kingston on 5-9 March 2018, preceding a session of the Legal and Technical Commission (LTC). The revised schedule of ISA meetings implies that the Council will have a second meeting this year on 16-20 July, following the meetings of the LTC and ahead of the General Assembly annual meeting (23-27 July).
The primary foci of the meeting were the development of Regional Environmental Management Plans (REMPs) (ISBA/24/C/3) and the formulation of advices to the LTC regarding the draft regulations for exploitation of mineral resources in the Area (ISBA/23/LTC/CRP.3*). Workshops involving all stakeholders will be held in 2018 on REMPs in the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, Indian Ocean triple junction, and the Clarion-Clipperton nodule area in the Pacific. As a fundamental principle, the draft regulations for exploitation of mineral resource in the area should reflect the provision of the UNCLOS. Discussions in informal mode focused on the economic, environmental, and legal aspects of the draft, with a special attention given to the comments sent by the stakeholders (ISBA/24/C/CRP.1).
The InterRidge observer status allowed to emphasize the importance of up-to-date knowledge bases, interdisciplinary integration and international cooperation as proposed by InterRidge in supporting best available evidence and expertise for the assessment of risks, elaboration of norms and management plans in this context. InterRidge reminded the Council "the crucial need of fundamental knowledge to answer questions on the vulnerability of ecosystems, the scales and intensity of environmental perturbations, the cumulative impacts of climate change and exploitation. This should involve all willing research teams, beyond those associated with the permit holders".