Craig R. Smith - Professor of Oceanography, University of Hawaii at Manoa.
J. Tony Koslow - Director, California Cooperative Oceanic Fisheries Investigations, Scripps Institution of Oceanography
Primary workshop goals included:
1. To make specific recommendations to the ISA (and to the United Nations) on the design of MPAs to safeguard biodiversity and ecosystem function on Pacific seamounts and in the abyssal Pacific nodule region in international waters.
2. To outline research needs to allow better design of deep-sea MPAs in international waters.
The Clarion-Cipperton Fracture Zone (CCZ) region:
Since the early 1970’s a number of consortia and countries have been interested in developing seabed mining, with particular emphasis on the Clarion-Clipperton fracture zone in the North Pacific, where potentially exploitable mineral resources (nickel and copper-rich manganese nodules, cobalt-rich crusts) were found in abundance.
Seafloor mining of crusts and nodules is still in the planning stages, but interests in mining the seafloor are increasing as the demand for industrial metals and metals prices rise worldwide.
Seamounts and nodule-covered abyssal plains in the Pacific harbor extraordinary biodiversity, and yet are targeted in the high seas by destructive human activities, in particular bottom trawling and the mining of manganese crusts and nodules. To preserve biodiversity in these ecosystems, it is imperative to create a system of Marine Protected Areas (MPA’s) off limits to mining, fishing and other destructive activities.
The Pew Fellows Program in Marine Conservation, as well as CeDAMar and CenSeam, provided the resources to convene a workshop of experts with broad expertise to design such Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) for seamounts and the abyssal nodule regions in international waters. Our goal is to provide the International Seabed Authority – ISA (the body erected by UNCLOS – United Nations Convention of the Law of the Seas to manage seabed resources and protect the marine environment in international waters), with specific recommendations regarding the set up of MPAs for seamounts and manganese nodule regions.