International Seabed Authority (ISA)

Highlights and images for 29 March 2024

Kingston, Jamaica

ISA-29 Council President Olav Myklebust, Norway

ISA-29 Council President Olav Myklebust, Norway, gavels the first part of ISA-29 to a close.

Taking stock of progress and planning next steps in developing the exploitation regulations for deep-sea mining dominated the final day of the meeting. Delegates agreed that progress had been made during the past two weeks, but outstanding issues necessitate picking up the pace.

President Olav Myklebust, Norway, opened the Council’s last day of the first part of the 29th annual session of the International Seabed Authority (ISA), inviting working group facilitators to deliver progress reports.

President Myklebust, in his role as Chair of the open-ended working group on the financial terms of a contract noted progress on: incentives; the review of the payment system and mechanism; the commencement of commercial production; and environmental externalities. He encouraged intersessional work to reach consensus.

Robyn Frost, Australia, presented on the thematic consultation for an equalization measure, outlining the two available options of an additional royalty in cases of tax exemptions or a profit share. She stressed the discussions allowed developing mutual understanding, despite not reaching consensus on the model to be used.

Council members gather for the last day of the first part of ISA-29

Council members gather for the last day of the first part of ISA-29

Terje Aalia, Norway, reported on the thematic consultation on the inspection, compliance, and enforcement mechanism, particularly establishing a compliance committee. He highlighted delegates’ responses to the guiding questions and invited written submissions to reach agreement on a robust compliance mechanism, noting that intersessional work may be initiated.

Salvador Vega, Chile, Co-facilitator of the informal working group on institutional matters, reported on effective control. He stressed that there is still a divergence of opinions on the approach to be followed on effective control and noted that intersessional work will continue.

On the informal working group on the protection and preservation of the marine environment, Facilitator Raijeli Taga, Fiji, reported progress on: the environmental compensation fund; environmental impact assessments and environmental impact statements; regional environmental management plans; and test mining. She invited delegates to engage in the intersessional work and welcomed written submissions.

The dais during the final day of the first part of ISA-29

The dais during the final day of the meeting

Clement Yow Mulalap, Federated States of Micronesia, reported on the thematic consultation on intangible cultural heritage (UCH), noting progress. He stressed the close cultural connection to the marine environment encompassed in intangible UCH and noted intersessional work will continue.

The Council took note of the reports.

A member drew attention to a draft decision on safety at sea, including responsibilities of flag state, ISA obligations, and the legitimate rights of contractors, lamenting that consensus could not be reached. Delegates agreed on the importance of addressing safety at sea, noting that discussions will continue in the next Council meeting in July 2024.

A member suggested scheduling another Council meeting in October or November 2024 to keep up the momentum and foster progress. Secretary-General Michael Lodge noted that such arrangements are feasible. President Myklebust said a relevant decision will be taken during the July session.

In his closing remarks, Secretary-General Lodge thanked all participants for their contributions and support. He stressed that he was “impressed at the focused way the Council dedicated itself to making painstaking progress on the regulations over the past two weeks.” He highlighted the Global Call for Action for accelerating sustainable development through advanced deep-sea science and innovation.

Michael Lodge, ISA Secretary-General

Michael Lodge, ISA Secretary-General

President Myklebust noted the issue of safety at sea can be further discussed in July. Highlighting “remarkable headway” in the consolidated text of the exploitation regulations, he focused on the road ahead. He invited written submissions by 1 May 2024, and requested delegates to focus on identifying conceptual issues that would benefit from further discussion. He noted a briefing paper will be issued prior to the July meeting, but not a new version of the consolidated text.

He added that during the two weeks delegates addressed one-third of the regulations in the consolidated text, noting that discussions will continue to complete a first reading, after which a new version will be issued. He urged delegates to pursue intersessional work with a view to reaching consensus on outstanding matters. He thanked all delegates and observers for their hard work, commitment, and support. He gaveled the meeting to a close at 12:50 pm.

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All ENB photos are free to use with attribution. For the 1st Part of the 29th Annual Session of the ISA, please use: Photo by IISD/ENB - Diego Noguera