Regional environmental management plans (REMPs) are an essential element of the strategy of ISA to ensure the protection of the marine environment, as reflected in its Strategic Plan for the period 2019-2023 (ISBA/24/A/10) and associated High Level Action Plan (HLAP). REMPs are developed to:
- provide the relevant organs of ISA, as well as contractors and their sponsoring States, with proactive area-based and other management tools to support informed decision-making processes that balance resource development with conservation;
- provide ISA with a clear and consistent mechanism to identify particular areas thought to be representative of the full range of habitats, biodiversity and ecosystem structures and functions within the relevant management area;
- provide those areas with appropriate levels of protection; and
- help ISA meet globally agreed goals and targets, such as the ones set out by the 2030 Agenda and in particular Sustainable Development Goal 14 (Life below water).
Environmental management plan for the Clarion-Clipperton Zone (CCZ-EMP)
The first environmental management plan for the Clarion-Clipperton Zone (CCZ) was adopted by the Council of ISA in 2012 (ISBA/18/C/22), on the basis of the recommendation of the Legal and Technical Commission (LTC) (ISBA/17/LTC/7). This included the designation of a network of nine “areas of particular environmental interest” (APEIs). Such APEIs are designed to protect biodiversity and ecosystem structure and function across the region and are protected from future exploitation of mineral resources. Under paragraph 42 of the CCZ-EMP, the LTC is responsible for keeping the APEIs under review and determining their suitability or need for adjustment, particularly as this relates to the number of APEIs and their size and location. Under paragraph 46 of the CCZ-EMP, the plan would be subject to a periodic external review by the LTC every two to five years, as required.
In line with these provisions, the ISA Secretariat convened the workshop on the CCZ biodiversity synthesis in collaboration with the Deep CCZ Project in October 2019. The workshop built on discussions held by the LTC in 2016 when it considered proposals for additional APEIs. The key scientific results of this workshop are summarized in the workshop report published in 2019.
Drawing on the outcomes of the CCZ Biodiversity Synthesis Workshop, the LTC reviewed the implementation of the CCZ-EMP and formulated recommendations on further actions to advance the objectives of the CCZ-EMP (ISBA/26/C/43). On the basis of these recommendations, the Council adopted a decision (ISBA/26/C/58) in December 2021, approving the establishment of four additional APEIs in the CCZ to enhance the effectiveness of the overall APEI network.
Development of REMPs in other regions
In 2018, the Council took note of a preliminary strategy (ISBA/24/C/3) to develop REMPs in priority regions where exploration activities currently take place. The Council agreed with the priority areas that had been identified on a preliminary basis as the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, the Indian Ocean triple junction ridge and nodule-bearing province, as well as the North-West Pacific and South Atlantic for seamounts. In 2019, the Council took note of a report prepared by the Secretariat, including a programme of work (ISBA/25/C/13) to implement this strategy through a series of regional workshops.
To facilitate the development of REMPs in other regions, the Secretariat prepared the REMP guidance document, which outlines the process and scientific approaches for developing REMPs. The REMP guidance document is being further developed by the LTC, as requested by the Council (ISBA/26/C/10).
For the area in the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, the ISA Secretariat convened three workshops in collaboration with various partners to facilitate the development of a REMP. The workshop reports and relevant background documents are available at the following links:
- 2018 - Workshop for developing a framework for REMPs for polymetallic sulphides deposits in mid-ocean ridges (Szczecin, Poland | 27-29 June 2018)
- 2019 - Workshop on the development of a REMP for the area of the northern Mid-Atlantic Ridge (Evora, Portugal | 25-29 November 2019)
- 2020 - Workshop on the development of a REMP for the area of the northern Mid-Atlantic Ridge with a focus on polymetallic sulphides deposits (Online | 23 November-04 December 2020)
In May 2021, the LTC tasked a working group with drafting the REMP for the Area of the northern Mid-Atlantic Ridge, based on the results of the three workshops. On 19 April 2022, the LTC released the draft REMP for stakeholder consultation for a period of 45 days. The consultation was closed on 3 June. The LTC will consider the comments received through stakeholder consultation during its meetings in July 2022, with a view to submitting the revised REMP for later consideration by the Council.
The draft REMP is available here. Please note that the draft REMP is an unedited draft and provided for the limited purpose of stakeholder consultation and not for citation or other uses.
The comments received through stakeholder consultation are available here.
Indian and Northwest Pacific oceans
Similar workshops have been convened for the Northwest Pacific Ocean (see below for further information). Additional workshops are being prepared to facilitate the development of REMPs in the Indian and Northwest Pacific oceans where exploration activities are taking place.
- 2018 - Workshop on the Development of a REMP for Cobalt-Rich Ferromanganese Crusts in the Northwest Pacific Ocean (Qingdao, China, 26- 29 May 2018)
- 2020 - Workshop on the Regional Environmental Management Plan for the Area of the Northwest Pacific (Virtual workshop, 26 October - 06 November 2020)