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Mining, Protection of the Environment, Scientific Research and Bioprospecting: Some Considerations on the Role of the International Sea-Bed Authority

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image of The International Journal of Marine and Coastal Law

The innovative concept of the common heritage of mankind is embodied in the 1982 LOSC for the seabed beyond the limits of national jurisdiction (the Area). It has been subsequently adapted to meet further political and economic realities. Despite the present uncertain situation, the mandate of the International Seabed Authority (ISBA) is already broader than it is commonly believed. The legal condition of the space (the Area), its being the common heritage of mankind, may have an effect also on matters and activities that (though different from minerals and mining activities) are located in that space. While bioprospecting is not specifically regulated by the UNCLOS, there is an inextricable factual link between the protection of the deep seabed environment (including its biodiversity), marine scientific research and bioprospecting. the ISBA, the principles that it represents, as well as its existing competences and responsibilities, need to be taken into consideration when States decide to fill the legal gap of bioprospecting. The role of the ISBA could be expanded in the future to meet new objectives under commonly agreed cooperative schemes.


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