Need to prevent species extinction in experimental seabed mining: ISA

Secretary General of the International Seabed Authority Nii Allotey Odunton said that the ISA had been “honoured and delighted” to hold an international workshop, in collaboration with the SPC/SOPAC division of the Pacific Community and the government of Fiji, on issues relating to the environmental impact assessment of deep seabed mining, reports The National

Odunton’s comments, part of his address to the United Nations General Assembly last month, referred to good progress made at the international workshop in identifying the issues that will need to be addressed in future environmental impact assessments, “including the establishing of a framework so that all stakeholders are aware of what is expected of them”.

During the workshop in Fiji, an integral part of the four-year, EU-funded deep seabed mnerals project, Odunton said that more information about the different species living on the deep seabed was needed.

“My concern is to prevent species extinction. We want to emphasise the precautionary approach, the work that still needs to be done in collecting baseline data.

“It is the mandate of the ISA to protect the marine environment. This means managing deep seabed mineral exploration, and any future mining enterprises, in such a way that the marine environment is sustained as the common heritage of all mankind.”

Of particular interest for Pacific Island nations are the two licence applications for deep seabed mineral exploration that the ISA has approved in the areas of seabed reserved for developing states.

The successful applications made by Nauru Ocean Resources Inc (NORI) and Tonga Offshore Mining Ltd (TOML), were sponsored by Nauru and Tonga respectively.

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