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International experts from member States, including developing counties and sponsoring States as well as from the scientific community, and contractors convened at a workshop held to discuss the development of a Regional Environmental Management Plan (REMP) for the Area of the Northern Mid-Atlantic Ridge in Évora, Portugal, from 25 to 29 November
Organized by the International Seabed Authority (ISA), in collaboration with the Government of Portugal and the European Commission through its Atlantic REMP project, the workshop held at the University of Évora in Portugal provided an opportunity for participants to review available scientific information and consider environmental requirements for applying area-based management tools and addressing cumulative impacts from future exploitation activities at a regional scale.
To date, ISA has issued three contracts for exploration for polymetallic sulphide deposits in the Area of the Northern Mid-Atlantic Ridge, which are rich in metals such as copper, zinc, lead, gold and silver. Once developed, the aim of the REMP will be to ensure effective environmental protection of this area as required by article 145 of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
In his opening remarks, the Secretary-General of ISA, Mr. Michael W. Lodge, underlined that together with the draft regulations for the exploitation of minerals in the international deep seabed, which are currently being developed by ISA, REMPs will contribute significantly to the sustainable management of mineral resources for the benefit of all mankind.
“As outlined in the Convention, ISA and its Member States have the duty to protect the marine environment from harmful impacts that may arise from seabed activities,” added Mr. Lodge. “Accordingly, ISA is required to develop measures and tools to provide for the effective protection and preservation of the marine environment, including marine biodiversity, and REMPs are a critical element in ISA’s toolbox of measures.”
Attending the opening of the workshop, Minister Ricardo Serrão Santos of the Ministry of the Sea at the Government of Portugal, underscored that his involvement in several research projects dedicated to the deep-sea chemosynthetic environments on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge have led him to become a strong believer in the need to reinforce international cooperation to study and protect the Atlantic as a shared resource due to its remarkable biodiversity, ecology and geological diversity.
Professor Ana Costa Freitas, Rector of the University of Évora, Portugal further emphasized that Évora was recognized as a world Heritage city from UNESCO in 1986 and she was pleased that Évora and its University are taking part in an international workshop dedicated to sustainable management of the common heritage of mankind.
The results from this workshop will provide valuable scientific input for the next workshop on the REMP for the Area of the Northern Mid-Atlantic Ridge to be held in St. Petersburg, Russia, in June 2020.
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