The Secretariat of the International Seabed Authority (ISA) held the fifth annual meeting of exploration contractors from 5 to 7 December 2022. The meeting was hosted by Allseas and the Technical University of Delft, in Delft, the Netherlands. Forty-two representatives of ISA exploration contractors attended the three-day meeting, either in person or virtually.
In his welcome remarks, the Secretary-General of ISA, H.E. Mr. Michael Lodge, noted the importance of the annual meeting as a forum to address issues related to the respective obligations of contractors and the ISA Secretariat. The meeting is also an opportunity for the Secretariat to update contractors on organizational changes and activities relevant to them.
“As individual contractors, you all have different interests, but one key factor that unites us is that we are in a contractual relationship based on a legal instrument and standard contract terms that apply to everybody. As contractors, you are bound by various reporting obligations and procedure obligations,” the Secretary-General said.
Participants discussed the progress made by the Council in advancing the draft regulations on exploitation of mineral resources in the Area, the implementation of ISA’s data management strategy and the use of required templates to submit data to ISA’s DeepData database, the achievements and remaining challenges faced by contractors in implementing their respective mandatory training programmes and the most recent initiatives implemented under the ISA’s Action Plan for Marine Scientific Research in support of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development.
The ISA Secretariat also facilitated discussions on ways to better enforce its supervisory obligations, including through inspections and by facilitating a direct dialogue between the Legal and Technical Commission and contractors in relation to the evaluation of their annual and periodic reports.
The meeting was also the opportunity to discuss the possible creation of buffer zones around sulphide occurrences as part of regional environmental management plans and ways to further enhance the process for environmental impact assessments.
The Secretariat of ISA has been holding annual meetings with contractors since 2017. Previous meetings were held in Jamaica (2017), Poland (2018), China (2019) and virtually (2021).
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