The Concept of Oceanian Sovereignty in the Context of Deep Sea Mining in the Pacific Region
Author(s)
Klaas Willaert
Publication

The Concept of Oceanian Sovereignty in the Context of Deep Sea Mining in the Pacific Region

Virginie Tilot, Bleuenn Guilloux, Klaas Willaert, Clement Yow Mulalap, Tamatoa Bambridge, Paul D'Arcy, Alexander Mawyer, François Gaulme, Edwige Kacenelenbogen, Alain Jeudy de Grissac, et al.
(2021) Frontiers in Marine Science. 8.

Based on an interdisciplinary experience addressing traditional dimensions in marine resource management in the Pacific, the socio-ecological interconnectivity between island communities, the ocean realm and the legal context concerning the management of seabed resources, this paper proposes to discuss the relevance and efficacy of the concept of “Oceanian Sovereignty” in the context of Deep Sea Mining, from the different legal, environmental, anthropological, social, political, and economic science perspectives. The policies and practices developed in the Pacific in this context could well serve as a suitable model elsewhere to reconcile competing perspectives in addition to sustaining the Human Well-being and Sustainable Livelihoods (HWSL) and the health of the Global Ocean. Well-being and Sustainable Livelihoods (HWSL) and the health of the Global Ocean.

Article
Protest at Sea against Deep Sea Mining: Lawfulness, Limits and Remedies
Author(s)
Klaas Willaert
Publication

Protest at Sea against Deep Sea Mining: Lawfulness, Limits and Remedies

(2021) International Journal of Marine and Coastal Law. 36(4). p.672-683

Protest at sea has been on the rise and this trend has now also manifested itself within the context of deep sea mining. In May 2021, Greenpeace activists approached the Normand Energy, a ship chartered by Belgian deep sea mining contractor Global Sea Mineral Resources (GSR), and interfered with its operations by painting slogans on the hull of the vessel and attaching banners to the umbilical cord of GSR’s prototype nodule collector. On the basis of applicable international principles and provisions, such actions can be considered unlawful, but adequate enforcement and effective remedies are lacking.

Article
Transparency in the field of deep sea mining: filtering the murky waters
Author(s)
Klaas Willaert
Publication

Transparency in the field of deep sea mining: filtering the murky waters

(2021) Marine Policy. 135.

Taking into account the status of the Area and its mineral resources as the common heritage of mankind, transparency in the governance of the deep seabed should be regarded as a priority. Indeed, since everyone can essentially be considered an interested party, the general public should be provided with sufficient information on the activities conducted in the Area and the entities involved. However, despite the efforts being undertaken to promote access to relevant data and information, several issues remain unaddressed. Public information on corporate structures and partnerships of applicants and contractors, underlying agreements with sponsoring states, ISA contracts and annual reports – enabling stakeholders to scrutinize deep sea mining operations in the Area – is relatively scarce, facilitating creative solutions to circumvent the applicable rules. While identifying the various legal issues concerning transparency in the field of deep sea mining, this article argues that enhanced disclosure of environmental data and information alone does not suffice, and encourages the International Seabed Authority to step up its efforts in order to eradicate murky practices in the deep sea mining industry.

Article
Regulating deep sea mining: a myriad of legal frameworks
Author(s)
Klaas Willaert
Publication

Regulating deep sea mining: a myriad of legal frameworks

The wide array of activities which we refer to as deep sea mining are not governed by one universal framework. On the contrary, numerous legal instruments play a role and it is important to maintain a clear overview. The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) evidently sets out the overarching regime, but important distinctions must be made. For example, deep sea mining in the Area is subject to international regulations adopted by the International Seabed Authority (ISA), while similar activities on the continental shelf fall under national jurisdiction and are governed by domestic legislation of the coastal state. This dichotomy must be nuanced, however, taking into account that non-state actors conducting deep sea mining operations in the Area must also adhere to national laws of the sponsoring state, while mineral exploration and exploitation on the continental shelf are likewise subject to a number of international rules and principles. Moreover, separate exploration regulations were adopted by the ISA for distinct categories of mineral resources, and national legislation on deep sea mining is quite diverse. This monograph intends to clearly identify all relevant legal instruments, assess their role, explain their interactions and engage with some of the topical issues that surround them.

Book
Under pressure: the impact of invoking the two year rule within the context of deep sea mining in the Area
Author(s)
Klaas Willaert
Publication

Under pressure: the impact of invoking the two year rule within the context of deep sea mining in the Area

(2021) INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF MARINE AND COASTAL LAW

At the end of June 2021, Nauru requested the ISA Council to complete the adoption of the rules, regulations and procedures necessary to facilitate the approval of plans of work for exploitation in the Area within two years’ time, pursuant to Section 1(15) of the Annex to the 1994 Implementation Agreement. If the exploitation regulations are not completed within that timeframe and an application for exploitation activities is pending, the Council must nonetheless consider it, but it is unclear on what basis such an application would need to be evaluated and what the nature and effects of a provisional approval are. In order to assess the precise impact and aftermath of invoking the ‘two year rule’, this short article explores the different legal interpretations and provides thoughts on the way forward.

Article
Het internationaal diepzeemijnbouwregime en de belangen van ontwikkelingslanden
Author(s)
Klaas Willaert
Publication

Het internationaal diepzeemijnbouwregime en de belangen van ontwikkelingslanden

(2021) Medelingen van de Koninklijke Belgische Marine Academie. XLII. p.5-28

Gelet op het principe van het gemeenschappelijk erfgoed van de mensheid en de plicht om activiteiten in het Gebied uit te oefenen ten behoeve van de gehele mensheid, dient er in toenemende mate rekening te worden gehouden met de belangen en noden van ontwikkelingslanden. Verschillende mechanismen werden bedacht om te verzekeren dat ontwikkelingslanden kunnen deelnemen aan diepzeemijnbouw in het Gebied en een billijk deel van de opbrengsten opstrijken, maar het merendeel van deze maatregelen werd nog niet geïmplementeerd en de recente trend van partnerschappen tussen private diepzeemijnbouwbedrijven en ontwikkelingslanden kan de oorspronkelijke doelstellingen op de helling zetten.

Article
Seabed mining within national jurisdiction: an assessment of the relevant legislation of the Cook Islands
Author(s)
Klaas Willaert
Publication

Seabed mining within national jurisdiction: an assessment of the relevant legislation of the Cook Islands

(2021) COASTAL MANAGEMENT.

Beyond the boundaries of national jurisdiction, the seabed and its mineral resources are governed by a comprehensive international regime, which determines by whom and under what conditions these natural resources can be exploited. However, the same mineral resources that deep sea mining actors are keen to exploit in the Area, are also available within zones falling under the exclusive jurisdiction of coastal states. So even if strict rules and precise standards would be enforced with regard to seabed mining operations in the Area, similar activities within a coastal state’s national jurisdiction remain unchecked by international law. Therefore, the question can be raised whether this might lead to substandard exploitation of the minerals of the seabed without adequate supervision? This article tests this assumption in a detailed case study of the relevant legislation of the Cook Islands, comprising the 2017 Marae Moana Act and the 2019 Cook Islands Seabed Minerals Act. Following a concise analysis of the competences of coastal states on their continental shelf, the domestic laws of the Cook Islands are critically compared with the international legal framework governing the Area, to assess whether they contain equivalent rules, mechanisms and safeguards.

Article
The Enterprise: State of affairs, challenges and way forward
Author(s)
Klaas Willaert
Publication

The Enterprise: State of affairs, challenges and way forward

(2021) Marine Policy.

The operationalization of the Enterprise, which was conceived as the operational arm of the International Seabed Authority (ISA) and can be considered a crucial component of the international deep seabed regime, still lies in wait and remains plagued by several outstanding matters. In this article, the characteristics and underlying objectives of the Enterprise are analyzed, along with a number of lingering issues and current developments that seem to complicate its establishment as an autonomous organ of the ISA. Although years of inaction have resulted in a significant backlog, it is argued that the ISA must treat the operationalization of the Enterprise as a top priority, since further delay will not only jeopardize the operationalization process, but might also limit the Enterprise’s options and use in the future. An Interim Director-General should be appointed as soon as possible, a transparent framework for joint ventures with the Enterprise must be developed and all options to mobilize the necessary funds and technical expertize should be explored.

Article
The necessity of traditional knowledge for management of deep-seabed mining
Author(s)
Klaas Willaert
Publication

The necessity of traditional knowledge for management of deep-seabed mining

Lisa Levin, Elva Escobar, Klaas Willaert, Phillip Turner, Bleuenn Guilloux, Kerry Howell, Daniel Jones, Cresantia Koyavakauta, Clement Yow Mulalap, Pradeep Singh, et al.
(2021) In DOSI Policy Briefs

Although there is no universally accepted definition of ‘traditional knowledge’ in international law and environmental governance, we refer here to TK as the knowledge, innovations and practices developed from experience gained over the centuries and adapted to the local culture and environment. It may be collectively owned and passed down through millennia in the form of stories, songs, chants, folklore, proverbs, dances, paintings, cosmologies, cultural values, beliefs, rituals, community laws, local language, and practices. TK helps transmit identity, relationships among peoples, with ancestors and with the environment. For the deep sea, TK is manifested in the preservation and perpetuation of connections between people, species, processes, ecosystems and seascapes. This includes an explicit approach for effective environmental management.

Report
Vissen kunnen niet naar de rechter stappen en ook de burgers kunnen het niet voor hen opnemen
Author(s)
Klaas Willaert
Hendrik Schoukens
Publication

Vissen kunnen niet naar de rechter stappen en ook de burgers kunnen het niet voor hen opnemen

(2021) Knack.

De voorbije weken stonden onze zeeën en oceanen volop in de aandacht. De Belgische baggerfirma Deme is een frontrunner in de zoektocht naar waardevolle metalen op de diepzeebodem, terwijl de Netflix-documentaire Seaspiracy ons dwingt na te denken over het probleem van overbevissing. Maar wat onder de radar blijft is het stuitende gebrek aan transparantie en inspraak voor het ruimere publiek bij de ontginning van onze zeeschatten.

Article
Deep sea mining partnerships with developing states: favorable collaborations or opportunistic endeavours?
Author(s)
Klaas Willaert
Publication

Deep sea mining partnerships with developing states: favorable collaborations or opportunistic endeavours?

Klaas Willaert and Pradeep Singh
(2021) INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF MARINE AND COASTAL LAW.

In order to engage in deep sea mining activities on the international seabed (otherwise known as “the Area”), non-state actors must be sponsored by a state, which bears the responsibility to ensure that the sponsored entity complies with the applicable rules. Not only the state of nationality, but also the state which exercises “effective control” might be required to serve as a sponsoring state, depending on the circumstances. However, it is not completely clear how “effective control” should be interpreted. Forum shopping seems a realistic possibility and the recent trend of partnerships between private deep sea mining companies and developing states can produce similar effects. These collaborations might be beneficial to both parties, but given the privileges awarded to developing states, it should be scrutinized whether such partnerships do not undermine the principle of the common heritage of mankind and the objective to realize benefits for mankind as a whole.

Article
Traditional dimensions of seabed resource management in the context of Deep Sea Mining in the Pacific: Learning from the socio-ecological interconnectivity between island communities and the ocean realm
Author(s)
Klaas Willaert
Publication

Traditional dimensions of seabed resource management in the context of Deep Sea Mining in the Pacific: Learning from the socio-ecological interconnectivity between island communities and the ocean realm

Virginie Tilot, Klaas Willaert, Bleuenn Guilloux, Wenting Chen, Clement Yow Mulalap, François Gaulme, Tamatoa Bambridge, Kimberley Peters and Arthur Dahl
(2021) FRONTIERS IN MARINE SCIENCE.

In many of the Pacific Islands, local communities have long-held cultural and spiritual attachments to the sea, in particular to species and specific marine areas, processes, habitats, islands, and natural seabed formations. Traditional knowledge, customary marine management approaches and integrated relationships between biodiversity, ecosystems and local communities promote conservation and ensure that marine benefits are reaped in a holistic, sustainable and equitable manner. However, the interaction between local traditional knowledge, contemporary scientific approaches to marine resource management and specific regulatory frameworks has often been challenging. To some extent, the value of community practices and customary law, which have provided an incentive for regional cooperation and coordination around ocean governance, is acknowledged in several legal systems in the Pacific and a number of regional and international instruments, but this important connection can be further enhanced. In this article we present a science-based overview of the marine habitats that would be affected by deep seabed mining (DSM) along with an analysis of some traditional dimensions and cultural/societal aspects of marine resource management. We then assess whether the applicable legal frameworks at different levels attach sufficient importance to these traditional dimensions and to the human and societal aspects of seabed (mineral) resource management in the region. On basis of this analysis, we identify best practices and formulate recommendations with regard to the current regulatory frameworks and seabed resource management approaches. Indeed, the policies and practices developed in the Pacific could well serve as a suitable model elsewhere to reconcile commercial, ecological, cultural and social values within the context of deep sea mineral exploitation in addition to sustaining the Human Well-being and Sustainable Livelihoods (HWSL) of the Pacific communities and the health of the Global Ocean.

Article
Payment regimes for the exploitation of mineral resources in the Area and on the extended continental shelf: deep sea mining at a discount?
Author(s)
Klaas Willaert
Publication

Payment regimes for the exploitation of mineral resources in the Area and on the extended continental shelf: deep sea mining at a discount?

(2020) ZHŌNGGUÓ HǍIYÁNG FǍXUÉ PÍNGLÙN = CHINA OCEANS LAW REVIEW. 16(4). p.43-83

Given the significant commercial interests and huge investments in deep sea mining, it comes as no surprise that states and private enterprises are not only pursuing exploration and exploitation activities in the Area, but are also targeting mineral-rich patches on the continental shelf. Indeed, it must be noted that the same mineral resources that deep sea mining actors are keen to exploit in the Area, are also available within zones falling under national jurisdiction. However, crossing this legal border results in a different legal regime, as activities on the continental shelf are governed by the national legislation of the coastal state and are, therefore, not subject to the comprehensive international regime applicable to the Area. Nevertheless, a similar duty to provide financial contributions to the International Seabed Authority exists in case of exploitation activities on the continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles. Taking into account that this payment system was already established by the Law of the Sea Convention back in 1982, it is necessary to assess to what extent the modalities and tariffs relate to the ones that are now being considered for its counterpart in the Area. Can we discern a logical balance or is deep sea mining on the extended continental shelf subject to discount rates and advantageous provisions? In order to clear this up, this article thoroughly analyzes the existing legal framework and the proposals which are currently being discussed at the International Seabed Authority, followed by a general comparison and several useful considerations.

Article
De verenigbaarheid van nationale belangen met het gemeenschappelijk erfgoed van de mensheid
Author(s)
Klaas Willaert
Publication

De verenigbaarheid van nationale belangen met het gemeenschappelijk erfgoed van de mensheid

(2020) TIJDSCHRIFT VOOR INTERNATIONAAL HANDEL EN TRANSPORTRECHT = JOURNAL FOR INTERNATIONAL TRADE AND TRANSPORT LAW. p.400-418

Voorbij de grenzen van de nationale jurisdictie worden de diepzeebodem en de aanwezige mineralen gekwalificeerd als ‘gemeenschappelijk erfgoed van de mensheid’. Niettemin wordt het diepzeebodemregime niet enkel beheerst door de Internationale Zeebodemautoriteit en de relevante internationale verdragen en instrumenten, maar spelen ook sponsorstaten en hun nationale wetgeving een bepalende rol. De legitimiteit van sommige wettelijke bepalingen kan echter in vraag worden gesteld, gelet op de plicht om diepzeemijnbouwactiviteiten buiten nationale jurisdictie uit te oefenen ten behoeve van de gehele mensheid. Kan een sponsorstaat bijvoorbeeld verlangen dat de voorgestelde activiteiten de algemene belangen van de staat dienen? Is het geoorloofd om inkomsten te genereren door het opleggen van een exploitatievergoeding of andere belastingen? En moeten ontwikkelingslanden hier wat meer speelruimte krijgen, gezien de bijzondere aandacht die aan hun belangen en noden wordt geschonken door het Internationaal Zeerechtverdrag? Dit artikel, dat voornamelijk voortvloeit uit rechtstheoretische beschouwingen, behandelt de kwestie van nationale belangen die zich manifesteren in de diepzeemijnbouwwetgeving van sponsorstaten en analyseert in hoeverre dergelijke bepalingen in overeenstemming zijn met het internationaal recht.

Article
An Energy Consumption Approach to Estimate Air Emission Reductions in Container Shipping
Author(s)
Theo Notteboom
Publication

An Energy Consumption Approach to Estimate Air Emission Reductions in Container Shipping

Ernest Czermański, Giuseppe T. Cirella, Aneta Oniszczuk-Jastrząbek, Barbara Pawłowska and Theo Notteboom
(2021) Energies.

Container shipping is the largest producer of emissions within the maritime shipping industry. Hence, measures have been designed and implemented to reduce ship emission levels. IMO’s MARPOL Annex VI, with its future plan of applying Tier III requirements, the Energy Efficiency Design Index for new ships, and the Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan for all ships. To assist policy formulation and follow-up, this study applies an energy consumption approach to estimate container ship emissions. The volumes of sulphur oxide (SOx), nitrous oxide (NOx), particulate matter (PM), and carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted from container ships are estimated using 2018 datasets on container shipping and average vessel speed records generated via AIS. Furthermore, the estimated reductions in SOx, NOx, PM, and CO2 are mapped for 2020. The empirical analysis demonstrates that the energy consumption approach is a valuable method to estimate ongoing emission reductions on a continuous basis and to fill data gaps where needed, as the latest worldwide container shipping emissions records date back to 2015. The presented analysis supports early-stage detection of environmental impacts in container shipping and helps to determine in which areas the greatest potential for emission reductions can be found.

Article
Disruptions and resilience in global container shipping and ports: the COVID-19 pandemic versus the 2008–2009 financial crisis
Author(s)
Theo Notteboom
Publication

Disruptions and resilience in global container shipping and ports: the COVID-19 pandemic versus the 2008–2009 financial crisis

Theo Notteboom, Thanos Pallis and Jean-Paul Rodrigue
(2021) Maritime Economics & Logistics.

Economic shocks test the resilience and adaptability of the shipping industry and container ports. Each crisis triggers different ramifications in the container market. This paper investigates the temporal and spatial sequences of the supply and demand shocks of COVID-19 on container ports and the container shipping industry by comparing these events to the 2008–2009 financial crisis. Using operational and financial data from primary and secondary sources, we analyze short-term impacts and their differences, the reasons for these variations, and the evolution in the adaptive capacity and resilience of ports, terminal operators, and carriers. The analysis revolves around several inter-related domains: impacts on global supply chains; impacts on operational aspects, market structure, and strategic behavior of shipping lines and terminal operators; impacts on port activity levels in terms of vessel calls and container volumes handled; and network impacts in terms of changes in aspects of container port connectivity. The changes observed and the strategic behavior of the market players involved reveal that further adaptation mechanisms, such as slow steaming, economies of scale, and capacity management, have been applied differently between the financial crisis and COVID-19, resulting in different outcomes. For an external shock such as COVID-19, impacts are the outcome of how ports and the shipping industry fit within complex supply chains and the cargo composition handled by ports.

Article