Advances in Earth Science
• Articles •
JIN Jiancai. Management of Biobogical Diversity and Genetic Resources in the Deep Seabed Beyond National Jurisdiction[J]. Advances in Earth Science, 2005, 20(1): 11-018.
One of the most significant discoveries in marine science during the last century was the determination of biological diversity in the deep seabed. The current knowledge on biodiversity in deep seabed is limited, but has revealed that the mineral resources and the biodiversity co-exist in the same environment. Biological components and diversity may vary in the deep sea basin, the mid-ocean ridges and the seamounts where the polymetallic nodule, the hydrothermal polymetallic sulphide and the cobalt-rich crust have been found respectively. Because the current and foreseen human activities may cause harmful impacts on the environment, as well as the potential conflicts over the utilization of the genetic resources, management of biodiversity and genetic resources in deep seabed beyond national jurisdiction has drawn an increasing attention of the international community. While a new legal regime governing human activities in the said areas may be necessary, the dominating principle, either “high sea freedom” or “common heritage of mankind” is under debate. In spite of this, reaching an agreement on implementing relevant parts of conventions on the Law of the Sea and on Biological Diversity may offer a realistic solution. As creating an acceptable new treaty is time consuming, collaboration and coordination among inter and/or non governmental organizations is very important at current stage, in adopting the relevant principles, rules, regulations and procedures in the said conventions. A code of conduct, being developed and carried out in the international community of scientists is practical and may be used as foundation for the development of legal regime and management mechanism. While the International Seabed Authority itself has been playing an active role in managing biodiversity in deep seabed beyond national jurisdiction, all these concerns and efforts may inspire it to establish more strict rules on activities in prospecting and exploration for the polymetallic sulphide and cobalt-rich crust. In conclusion, the author has made some proposals on this issue for the policy-makers as well as the scientific community in China.