Fostering Technological Change for Sustainable Harvesting of Ocean Mineral Resources in a Volatile Global Environment

In: Legal Order in the World's Oceans

Providing the right conditions emerge, seabed mining of the international seabed beyond the limits of national jurisdiction (legally known as the “Area”) may soon become a reality. The International Seabed Authority (isa) established by the Law of the Sea Convention, is now—after having delivered regulations for exploration of seabed minerals in 2000—working towards the world’s first regulations for the exploitation of seabed minerals in international waters; thereby continuing the implementation of its overarching goal of developing the resources of the Area for the benefit of mankind as a whole. A zero-draft exploitation regulation for polymetallic nodules is expected to be released during the isa’s 22nd annual session in Kingston, Jamaica in July 2016. Before any exploitation may take place, fundamental state-of-the-art and custom-built equipment remains to be developed and tested, thus improving our understanding of the environmental impact of harvesting delimited areas of the abyssal plain. Both the technological and environmental risk may prove to be the most significant challenges in the development of the resources of the Area. Regulation, therefore, is a prerequisite for further investment, providing certainty, stability and predictability for investors. Nevertheless, at the same time, onerous regulation may lead to dwindling investor interest.

Legal Order in the World's Oceans

UN Convention on the Law of the Sea

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