Who regulates deep sea mining?

The International Seabed Authority (ISA) regulates deep sea mining. It is an autonomous intergovernmental body based in Kingston, Jamaica. It was established under the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the 1994 Implementing Agreement to organise, regulate and control all mineral-related activities in the international seabed area and for the benefit of humankind as a whole.


The International Seabed Authority

The ISA is made up of 167 Member States and the European Union.

The ISA is in the process of developing regulations for commercial activity known as the ‘Mining Code’ and any contractors wishing to undertake operations in the international deep seabed area will need to abide by these regulations.

The regulations will incorporate specific provisions to ensure the effective protection of the marine environment and conservation of marine biodiversity, human health and safety and a system of payments that aims to ensure the equitable sharing of financial and other economic benefits.

In addition to operations in international waters, there will be mineral extraction by countries within their own national waters’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ). These activities will not be regulated by the ISA but by the national law of these states.  However, provided they ratified UNCLOS they are required to follow the minimum standards set by the ISA, especially with regards to environmental standards.

For more information on the International Seabed Authority, please visit their website here.