Fiji Delegation to International Seabed Authority Calls for Dedication to Healthy Oceans

Kingston, Jamaica
Wednesday, July 23, 2014

In its statement at the General Debate of the Assembly of the International Seabed Authority (ISA) in Jamaica today, the Fiji delegation reaffirmed the ISA's inescapable responsibility to safeguard the ocean's environmental integrity.

Addressing the assembly, Fiji Ambassador Peter Thomson said, "As we keenly anticipate the era of the exploitation of seabed mineral deposits, we must double up on our shared understanding of that inescapable responsibility for the marine environment. Let there be no doubt that here at the International Seabed Authority we have a duty of care to ensure, for the benefit of all mankind, that the ocean's environmental integrity rules our endeavors."

Today's Fiji statement drew the attention of the Assembly to the comprehensive consultation processes the international community has undertaken in the formulation of the Post-2015 Development Agenda. In this regard it highlighted the conclusion this month of the UN's Open Working Group tasked with creating the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that will guide future global development. The Fiji statement said it was deeply gratifying that SDG 14 is a standalone goal on healthy oceans and seas, aimed at sustainable use and conservation of the oceans resources.

Ambassador Thomson said it was well known that the Pacific Ocean is the prime repository of the planet's seabed minerals. He said it was also increasingly appreciated that the fates of the Pacific Small Island Developing States are inextricably tied to the condition of that ocean. "It is these realities," he said, "That have led Pacific SIDS to take an oceanic stewardship stand in the approach to the exploitation of seabed minerals."

The Fiji statement welcomed the preliminary steps taken so far on the ISA's  Exploitation Regulations. It called on the ISA's Legal and Technical Commission to step up its deliberations in this regard, and referred to the need for the Commission to be given all necessary resources required for the task at hand, both in terms of finance and time.

Ambassador Thomson said the ISA was evolving in accordance with the wishes of its membership for environmental integrity and in response to the rational requirements that arise from the demands of the global community for minerals such as those lying upon the deep seabed. He said the Authority must reconcile and act upon those wishes and demands, and concluded the Fiji statement with the reminder that, "We must always ensure the International Seabed Authority's work is in harmony with the global imperative of sustaining healthy oceans on this blue planet."

The Fiji delegation at the ISA's annual session this year is being led by Ambassador Thomson and includes Commander John Fox of Fiji Navy, Permanent Secretary Tevita Boseiwaqa of the Ministry of Lands and Mineral Resources, and Aminiasi Qareqare of the Department of Environment.

Fiji Delegation is welcomed to ISA annual session by Secretary-General Nii Odunton (4th from right) and ISA Senior Legal Officer Sai Navoti (2nd from right)

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