An Abyssal Initiative workshop for Blue Growth equitable sharing of benefits from seabed minerals activities was held in Tonga last month. Halatoa Fua – NES Director, Alex Herman – SBMA Commissioner, and Michael Henry – CIICSR representative, attended from the Cook Islands.
The workshop outlined the role of the United Nations Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the International Seabed Authority (ISA) in ocean governance, control of all mineral resources-related activities in the area for the benefit of humankind, and the effective protection of the marine environment from harmful effects that may arise from deep seabed related activities.
The sessions continued discussions on the approaches to sharing of benefits from seabed minerals activities are efficient, equitable and fair. Alternative forms of distribution include the Seabed Sustainability Fund, which could finance research to develop and monitor the necessary technologies and embark on capacity building programmes.
There were breakout sessions focused on monetary and non-monetary benefits from activities in these designated areas. This included investment in data, capacity building, innovation, research, and social inclusion. The establishment of a Seabed Sustainability Fund can focus on capacity building, climate adaptation, marine scientific research, technology transfer and other areas proposed by the group.
Presentations were made by technology and innovative companies on vessel movement tracking, monitoring of deep-sea activities, marine scientific research, environmental stewardship and maritime transparency.
NES’s participation is important to understand the role of ISA and the equitable sharing of benefits. With the recent passing of the Environment (Seabed Minerals Activities) Regulations 2023, there is a need to identify areas that require technical expertise to optimise means of implementation. NES’s primary focus will be on environmental protection, conservation and management.