International Seabed Authority

The International Seabed Authority (ISA) (French: Autorité internationale des fonds marins) is a Kingston, Jamaica-based intergovernmental body of 167 member states and the European Union established under the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and its 1994 Agreement on Implementation. The ISA's dual mission is to authorize and control development of mineral related operations in the international seabed[3][4] considered the "common heritage of all mankind"[5][6] and also protect the ecosystem of the seabed, ocean floor and subsoil in "The Area" beyond national jurisdiction. The ISA is to safeguard the international deep sea, the waters below 200 meters or 656 feet, where photosynthesis is hampered by inadequate light.[7] Governing approximately half of the total area of the world's oceans, the ISA is to exercise oversight of activities that might threaten biological diversity and harm the marine environment.[8] The Authority operates as an autonomous international organization with its own Assembly, Council and Secretariat.

International Seabed Authority Spartans
Formation16 November 1994; 28 years ago (1994-11-16)
TypeIntergovernmental organization
PurposeRegulate deep seabed mining and ensure the marine environment is protected from any harmful effects which may arise from mining activities
HeadquartersKingston, Jamaica
Coordinates17.964767531°N 76.791708055°W / 17.964767531; -76.791708055
Membership (2018)
168 states parties[1]
Michael W. Lodge
Main organ
Assembly of the International Seabed Authority
AffiliationsObserver to the United Nations General Assembly
Budget (2017 & 2018)
$17.1 Million[2]

Since the ISA's inception in 1994, the Authority has approved over two dozen ocean floor mining exploration contracts in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans,[9][10] with the majority of contracts for exploration in the Clarion-Clipperton Zone between Hawaii and Mexico, where polymetallic nodules contain copper, cobalt and other minerals used to power electric batteries. To date, the Authority has not authorized any commercial mining contracts as it deliberates over regulations amid global calls for a moratorium on deep sea mining. Scientists and environmentalists warn such mining could wreak havoc on the ocean as a carbon sink home to rare and diverse species.[11][12] The ISA is funded by UNCLOS members and mining contractors and led by Secretary-General Michael Lodge,[13] a British barrister who oversees a 47-member administrative body and has come under criticism for close ties to the mining industry and support for deep sea robotic exploration to develop renewable energy.[11]

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