JAMAICA, Kingston (28 August 2017) – –  The ISA will host a workshop on the design of impact reference zones (IRZ) and preservation reference zones (PRZ) in the Area. The workshop will be held in Germany from 27-29 September 2017.

A requirement of Regulation 31, Part V of the Regulations on Prospecting and Exploration for Polymetallic Nodules in the Area includes proposals for areas to be set aside and used exclusively as impact reference zones, and the preservation of these zones.  A similar provision is replicated in the Regulations on Prospecting and Exploration for Polymetallic Sulphides and Cobalt-rich Crusts.

The workshop will be a forum for the ISA, its contractors, and scientific and technical experts to exchange information and develop a common understanding of the key elements of reference area design and monitoring principles applicable to exploitation contracts for deep-sea minerals.

IRZ areas will be used for assessing the effect of each contractor’s activities on the marine environment, whereas in PRZ areas, there will be no mining activity to ensure representative and stable biota of the seabed in order to assess any changes in the flora and fauna of the marine environment.

Workshop objectives will include the development of a reproducible and transparent procedure to:

  • Describe, categorize and map the contract areas, 

  • Select impact and preservation reference zones, 

  • Deliver baseline information on the selected zones to the ISA and stakeholders,

  • Perform monitoring of IRZs and PRZs designations, including post mining monitoring as part of closure plans/Contractor commitment, 

  • Perform impact assessments, 

  • File timely reports on the monitoring activities, and,

  • Guarantee public accessibility to all work and reports.

The workshop aims to contribute to the required criteria for IRZs and PRZs as an element of environmental monitoring programmes and determine the design and monitoring principles, to help ensure a consistent application of IRZ and PRZ concepts.