International Seabed Authority Receives Three New Applications For Seabed Exploration

The International Seabed Authority has received three new applications for seabed exploration licences. The three new applications have been filed in respect of areas located in the Indian Ocean, the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean.

Two of the applications are for exploration for polymetallic sulphides and one relates to polymetallic nodules.

The first application was received on 21 May 2012 from the Government of the Republic of Korea. The application is for approval of a plan of work for exploration for polymetallic sulphides and the application area is located in the Central Indian Ocean. Korea already holds a contract for exploration for polymetallic nodules in the Pacific Ocean, which was signed in 2001.

Two further applications were received on 23 May 2012. The Institut français de recherche pour l’exploitation de la mer (IFREMER) submitted an application for approval of a plan of work for exploration for polymetallic sulphides in an area located on the seabed of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. IFREMER's application is sponsored by the Government of France. IFREMER already holds a contract for exploration for polymetallic nodules, issued in 2001.

The third application, also submitted on 23 May 2012, was filed by UK Seabed Resources Ltd., a company sponsored by the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The area applied for is in the Eastern part of the Clarion-Clipperton Zone in the Pacific Ocean where the Authority has already issued ten contracts for exploration for nodules between 2001 and 2012.

All three applications have been placed on the agenda of the Legal and Technical Commission of the Authority. The Commission starts its next meeting on 9 July 2012. Applications are normally considered in order of their receipt. Once the Commission has reviewed the applications, it must forward its recommendation to the Council of the Authority, which will then decide whether to approve the applications.