Fourth Report of the Code Project

Summary of stakeholder comments on the 2018 ISA draft regulations

Fourth Report of the Code Project

This report summarizes written comments submitted by ISA member States and Stakeholders on the most recent draft of proposed regulations to govern exploitation on the international seabed. The draft [ISBA/24/LTC/WP.1/REV.1] was discussed by the Legal and Technical Commission and the Council of the ISA at its sessions in March and July 2018 [ISBA/24/C/8, ISBA/24/C/20]. At the conclusion of the July session, the Secretary-General and the President of the Council invited ISA members and Stakeholders to submit written comments by 30 September 2018. Forty-two submissions—21 from member States, one from a member State regional group, six from contractors, nine from ISA observer groups, and five from other Stakeholders—were posted on the ISA website on 19 November 2018. Their comments are summarized within.

Shortly after the Stakeholder submissions were posted on the ISA website, a “briefing note” from the Secretariat also was put up, outlining how it planned to address some of the leading subjects raised in the submissions. The briefing note covered common issues identified in the Stakeholder submissions, followed by a section on Next steps in which the Secretariat named “critical areas [that] would benefit from further discussion in the Council” and about which the Secretariat would prepare short discussion papers. The briefing note also contained an Annex on matters arising from specific regulatory text that summarized Stakeholder reactions to the most recent draft of the proposed regulations and described next steps to address their concerns. On 4 December 2018, a slightly revised version of the 19 November 2018 paper appeared as an official Council document under the title: “Comments on the draft regulations on the exploitation of mineral resources in the Area.” [https://www.isa.org.jm/document/isba25c2].

This Code Project report is presented in two parts.

Part One summarizes Stakeholder submissions on the critical areas identified for further discussion in the Secretariat’s document [https://www.isa.org.jm/document/isba25c2]. The order in which this paper treats them follows the sequence in which they are scheduled to be discussed during the Council sessions of 25-28 February. On each of the eight issues, the Secretariat’s responses appear immediately after the summary of Stakeholder submissions.

Part Two summarizes comments on nine other issues raised in Stakeholder submissions but not referenced by the Secretariat or listed as a topic scheduled for Council discussion.

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The Code Project Development of Seabed Mining Regulations

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The Code Project Development of Seabed Mining Regulations

The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) established the International Seabed Authority (ISA) and invested it with the sole power to govern seabed mining in areas beyond national jurisdiction. Mining on the international ocean floor cannot take place until the ISA approves exploitation regulations, and drafts of those regulations are now under consideration. Final approval is expected in 2020 or 2021. For perhaps the first time in history, a governing body and its member governments have the chance to establish rules for an extractive industry before it begins.