Monday, 19 August 2019 09:56 GMT

Jamaica to advance legislation on seabed exploration for polymetallic nodules

(MENAFN - Caribbean News Now) Prime Minister Andrew Holness (left), in discussion with Secretary-General of the International Seabed Authority (ISA), Michael Lodge, at the start of the 25th Anniversary Commemorative Session of the Assembly of the ISA, at the Jamaica Conference Centre in downtown Kingston, on Thursday (July 25). Photo: Rudranath Fraser

By Alecia Smith 

KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) – Prime Minister Andrew Holness, says Jamaica is advancing legislation that will ensure compliance with all relevant international rules and best environmental practices in relation to exploration in the seabed area.

This, he said, is in light of the country's recent signing of an agreement as a sponsoring State for an application for that exploration.

Holness was speaking at the 25th-anniversary commemorative session of the assembly of the International Seabed Authority (ISA), at the Jamaica conference centre in Kingston, on Thursday (July 25).

According to a release from the ministry of foreign affairs and foreign trade earlier this year, under the agreement, the government and Blue Minerals Jamaica Ltd., will file an application with the ISA for an exploration licence for Polymetallic Nodules in international waters.

Blue Minerals Jamaica's activities are focused on the collection of Polymetallic Nodules containing high concentrations of Nickel, Copper, Cobalt, and Manganese. Nodules are lying on the surface of the seabed and are harvested by a collector through hydraulic suction.

The prime minister said the government is also encouraged with the work that is being undertaken on the Enterprise, which is the commercial arm of the Authority, empowered to conduct its own seabed mining, initially through joint ventures with other entities.

'The operationalisation of the Enterprise will present developing countries with much-needed opportunities for participation in deep seabed mining,' he said.

As outlined in an ISA fact sheet, the function of the enterprise are to be carried out by the secretariat of the ISA, until seabed mining becomes a commercial reality.

'During the interim period, the secretariat will monitor trends and developments, assess prospecting and exploration data and the results of marine scientific research, evaluate data on seabed areas reserved for the authority, assess approaches to joint ventures, and study managerial policy options for administering the enterprise,' the document read.

In the meantime, prime minister Holness implored member states of the ISA to prepare for responsible mining of the resources of the seabed area.

"While exploitation promises socio-economic benefits, this must proceed on the basis of appropriate regulations, standards, and guidelines that ensure the effective protection of the marine environment," he said.

He also urged member states to recommit to the preservation and equitable utilisation of marine resources and to ocean-based climate action. This, he said, is in light of the ongoing rapid deterioration of the global marine environment.

'A healthy ocean is vital for effectively addressing the impacts of climate change and sustaining the lives and livelihoods of our peoples. Urgent action is required therefore, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, in keeping with the Paris Agreement,' he said.

During this special session of the ISA assembly, members states continued discussions around the draft exploitation regulations for commercial deep seabed mining in the international deep seabed area.

The ISA is comprised of 168 member states and is mandated as the organisation through which parties to the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) organise and control all mineral-related activities in the international seabed area.


Jamaica to advance legislation on seabed exploration for polymetallic nodules


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