Seabed Authority Concludes 16th Session; Adpts Draft Regulations On Polymetallic Sulphides And Elects New Council Members

A framework for the future development of mineral resources of the deep seabed was realised at the 16th Session of the ISA with the approval of Regulations to govern prospecting and exploration for polymetallic sulphides in the Area.

It took six years of debate and compromise in the Council and culminated in its unanimous adoption by the members of the Authority marking a milestone in the progressive development of a comprehensive set of rules, regulations and procedures to govern prospecting, exploration and exploitation of marine minerals.

The first set of Regulations on prospecting and exploration for polymetallic nodules was adopted by the Authority on 13 July, 2000; the second set of Reguations being the regulations on prospecting and exploration of polymetallic sulphides was adopted at the 16th Session on 7 May 2010.

The third set of Regulations for cobalt-rich ferromanganese crust will be taken up at the 17th Session in 2011. Ferromanganese cruts and oxidized deposits are found throughout the global oceans on the flanks and summits of seamounts, ridges and plateaux that are important potential source for many other metallic and rare earth elements such as titanium, cerium, nickel, platinum, manganese, phosphorus, thallium, tellurium, zirconium, tungsten, bismuth and molybdenum.

On 7 May, the Assembly elected 17 members to the Council for a four year term from 2011-2013 subject to the understandings reached in the regional and interest groups.

On the recommendation of the Council, the Assembly also decided that the Authority, in accordance with Article 191 of the Convention, would request the Seabed Disputes Chamber of the International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea, pursuant to Article 131 of the Tribunal’s Rules, to render an advisory opinion on the Nauru proposal.

During the session, the Assembly also paused to remember victims of the earthquakes in Haiti, Chile and China. A minute of silence was also observed for the recent passing of the following: the President of Poland, Lech Kacsynski, the former President of the International Olympic Committee, Juan Antonio Samaranth; and one of the pioneers of the key figures in the negotiations leading to the adoption of the 1982 United Convention on the Law of the Sea and a former Judge of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, Paul Engo of Cameroon; and the President of Nigeria, Alhaji Umaru Yardua.