During her address at the 23rd Session of the International Seabed Authority (ISA) on Wednesday, August 16, Senator the Honourable Kamina Johnson Smith, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade flagged the importance of an environmental management strategy as companies continue to express interest in the exploration and exploitation of the deep sea bed.
Noting that the Legal and Technical Commission (LTC) of the ISA is in the process of developing exploitation regulations which should be delivered within the next eighteen (18) months, the Minister recognized that “both the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the Mining Code recognise that seabed mining may cause environmental damage.”
She therefore stated, “The work with which we are charged as an Assembly, acting as the stewards of the interests of both present and future generations, requires that we consider and assume responsibility for the possible implications of deep seabed mining on our environment.We strongly support the development of environment management plans that promote the conservation and protection of our common heritage.”
Minister Johnson Smith’s position may be placed in the context of Jamaica’s increased engagement in the global arena on matters related to the health of our oceans and seas and a growing global recognition of the current and potential impact that these matters have on life as we know it.
The Minister also affirmed Jamaica’s commitment to “a continuous process of reform that will enhance the integrity and efficiency of the Authority”, as she welcomed Azerbaijan and Ghana as the most recent States Parties to the UNCLOS.
The Minister also acknowledged the government’s support for the establishment of a UN House, at the Jamaica Conference Centre, whereby all UN organisations in the island will be located under one roof, sharing a home with the ISA.