Source: The Tyee
In the coming years, a new gold rush will begin. Deep beneath the ocean’s waves, from scalding hydrothermal vents to the frigid stretches of the abyssal plain, ocean processes have deposited vast quantities of valuable minerals on the seafloor. Now, the convergence of technological development and political will has placed this ore within reach. But like the gold rushes of old, the deep-sea-mining industry is emerging on the frontiers of society, far from legislatures and law enforcement.
Officially, the nascent deep-sea-mining industry is governed by the International Seabed Authority, an intergovernmental organization established in 1996 by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. The authority’s critical task is to co-ordinate its 168 member nations in establishing and enforcing regulations for the developing deep-sea-mining industry.
But the ISA’s teeth are just coming in, says Duncan Currie, a legal advisor to the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition, an advocacy organization. At the moment, the authority still hasn’t created an enforcement agency. In addition, “they won’t and they can’t force countries to comply with ISA regulations when drafting their own laws,” says Currie.