Speaking at the recent 88th meeting of the Ocean Studies Board of the National Academies of Science in Washington, the Secretary-General of the International Seabed Authority, Michael Lodge said that ISA had approved 29 contracts for deep sea exploration covering more than 1.3 million square kilometers of the seabed.
During the speech, he highlighted the nature of the underlying legal regime established by the Law of the Sea Convention as the one factor that distinguished deep seabed mining from any other extractive activity.
He also provided an overview of the current status of deep seabed mining from the perspective of the International Seabed Authority, as regulator, and identified some of the main factors that need to come into alignment in order for the industry to take off.
“Seafloor minerals are the only example of a global resource that is under international management by an international organization. As such, the International Seabed Authority represents a unique experiment in international relations,” said Michael Lodge.
He emphasized that while commercial production of seafloor minerals had not started, the Authority had come a long way compared to where it was in 1982 and in 1994 when it was established in Kingston, Jamaica.
“All the indications are that we are at a decisive point in the long history of attempts to mine the deep seabed. We are on the threshold of a new industry. But to go beyond this point requires tremendous financial investment and involves considerable risk,” added Michael Lodge.
The Ocean Studies Board meeting was held from 13-15 November 2017. Meeting highlights included new reports on Polar Icebreaker Cost Assessment and Sustaining Ocean Observations to Understand Future Changes in Earth’s Climate and a special session on Deep Seabed Mining.