On 24 November 2022, the Secretary-General of the International Seabed Authority (ISA), H.E. Mr. Michael W. Lodge, and the Honorable Minister of Oceans and Fisheries of the Republic of Korea, H.E. Mr. Seung-hwan Cho, formalized a renewed partnership between the ISA Secretariat and the Ministry of Ocean and Fisheries (MOF) to further strengthen collaboration in deep-sea exploration, scientific research and the sustainable development of seabed mineral resources in the international seabed area (the Area).
During the signing ceremony, which took place in Seoul, Korea, Secretary-General Lodge commented: “This renewed partnership will enable the ISA Secretariat and the MOF of the Republic of Korea to bring what is already a very positive cooperation to a new level. The scientific and technical leadership shown by Korean experts and institutes worldwide will allow us to advance further our common understanding of deep-sea ecosystems and marine biodiversity in support of the unique and exclusive mandate assigned to ISA by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.”
“The commitment shown by the Republic of Korea towards the implementation of the Marine Scientific Research Action Plan of ISA adopted in 2020 in support of the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science and the Capacity Development Strategy adopted recently in August 2022 is a testament of the increased support received from our Members to ensure that we can deliver our mission towards the sustainable management of global commons,” Mr. Lodge added.
Welcoming the strengthening of the cooperation between the two institutions, the Honorable Minister Seung-hwan Cho stated: “While the Republic of Korea has been focusing on the exploration of deep-seabed mineral resources, we will further put our efforts towards effective protection and management of the deep seabed, the common heritage of humankind, including through advanced deep-sea scientific research and capacity development.”
“We plan to continue promoting various collaborative initiatives that can enable the Republic of Korea to contribute to the development of the international community,” Mr. Cho added.
This partnership, which was formalized through the signing of a letter of cooperation, foresees the strengthening of the existing collaboration towards the implementation of key strategic directions of ISA as reflected in the ISA Action Plan in support of the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development and the ISA Capacity Development Strategy. More specifically, joint actions will be developed and implemented to advance scientific knowledge of deep-sea ecosystems in the Area through scientific research and capacity development activities. Some of these may include enhancing the participation of women scientists in research programmes and activities, strengthening cooperation among international organizations, scientific communities and industries in support of the sustainable development of mineral resources in the Area and facilitating cooperation in the exploration and development of the mineral resources of the Area.
The Republic of Korea holds three contracts with ISA for the exploration of mineral resources in the Area. It is a Member of the Group B of the ISA Council, comprising Members that have made the largest investments in activities in the Area.
The MOF is a cabinet-level organ of the government of the Republic of Korea responsible for the maritime and fisheries sectors, including marine policy, the marine environment, marine scientific research, marine resources development and marine science and technology research and development. The MOF has been a key strategic partner of ISA since 2020. It co-hosted two deep-sea taxonomy workshops in 2020 and 2021 and a workshop for the development of the regional environmental management plan for the Northwest Pacific in 2020. The MOF is also co-hosting a workshop on enhancing genetic approaches to advance deep-sea taxonomy from 23 to 25 November 2022 and the inception workshop of ISA’s flagship Sustainable Seabed Knowledge Initiative from 29 November to 1 December 2022 in Seocheon.
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