Enforcement of Deep-Sea Mining Regulations: Unpacking the Tangle of Overlapping Jurisdictions in International Waters

New Code Project paper warns that rules must account for complex international legal landscape

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Enforcement of Deep-Sea Mining Regulations: Unpacking the Tangle of Overlapping Jurisdictions in International Waters

Editor's Note: This report was updated on March 26, 2024 to include the full list of Code Project members and their affiliations.

The International Seabed Authority (ISA), which is negotiating regulations to govern potential commercial mining of the deep seabed in areas outside of national jurisdictions, cannot exercise full regulatory control over miners because of its limited mandate. Should mining go ahead in international waters, the ISA would need to rely upon the cooperation of various States to assist with monitoring and enforcement.

This new paper from the Code Project questions whether the mining regulations under development at the ISA properly address the complex and intersecting patchwork of legal regimes that could apply to miners, including different laws that cover the ships, ports, and sites on land that could be used in deep-sea mining. The paper also cautions that failure to fully address those regimes may create loopholes that undermine the ISA’s regulations.

The Code Project is a cooperative enterprise of 23 scientists and legal scholars from 14 nations. Its mission is to provide analyses of the regulatory framework for deep-sea mining under development at the ISA.

The Pew Charitable Trusts provided funding for this project, but Pew is not responsible for errors in this paper and does not necessarily endorse its findings or conclusions.

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