JAMAICA, Kingston (22 May 2018) – – Fifty years ago, the international community took a decision to set aside the resources of the seabed beyond national jurisdiction as the common heritage of mankind and to place its administration in the hands of an international organization to be created for that specific purpose. 

As part of its mandate, the International Seabed Authority has been entrusted with the responsibility to ensure the effective protection and preservation of the marine environment, including the impact on biodiversity.  

A critical initiative in that regard was the adoption by the Council of the Authority in 2012, following an extensive consultative process, of the first-ever environmental management plan for the Area in the Clarion-Clipperton Zone. The process included the designation of a network of nine areas of particular environment interest through a collaborative process involving numerous relevant stakeholders. Recently, in March 2018, the Council welcomed the announcement of further efforts for the development of regional environmental management plans under the auspices of the Authority.  These plans will be developed for key provinces where exploration activities under contract are carried out. To this end, through a series of workshops in the course of 2018-2020, the Authority will bring together scientific experts, representatives of member States, sponsoring States, contractors, academia and non-governmental organizations, who will identify knowledge gaps and formulate recommendations.   

To get the process underway immediately, two workshops will be organised soon, one in partnership with the Chinese Ocean Mineral Resources Research and Development Association, in China (May 2018) and another one in Poland (June 2018). 

The Authority is actively pursuing other critical initiatives to contribute to the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction. One in particular relates to the publication of online deep-sea taxonomic atlases that will be accessible freely by all (#OceanAction17776). Another one deals with the development of long-term monitoring for the deep-ocean to increase knowledge of deep-sea biodiversity and ecological processes and functions including the impacts of climate change on deep-sea ecosystems (#OceanAction17746). 

Caption: Examples of classified taxa (Meiofauna-Macrofauna from the CCZ) collected by experts. Data includes: bar coding and metadata and will be made available to all stakeholders through ISA Atlases in 2018.