Efforts to discriminate natural variation from anthropogenic impacts in nature are not possible without a long-term assessment of essential environmental variables. This is crucially important for a sustainable management plan for deep sea mineral resources in the Area. Therefore, the ISA is proposing to implement a monitoring long-term observatory (LTOS) which will, in its initial stage, be using available technology (solid state sensors) tethered or untethered in the Area, where plans of works for exploration have been approved.
Enhancement of the understanding of ecosystems functions and their role in climate change, as well as in identifying the magnitude of human impacts and vulnerabilities, require efforts to: 1) coordinate worldwide initiatives and, 2) provide the means for continuous and long-term monitoring/observing systems (LTOS) of the deep sea ocean realm.
The need to narrow the gap of knowledge on ecosystems understanding of the deep sea in the Area was clear in the last meeting of DOSI-GOOS-DOOS. They are many initiatives already in place for observing the oceans top 200 m and the deep sea in different EEZs across the world. These initiatives are already coordinated by GOOS-IOC. In this context the ISA is proposing to implement a monitoring long-term observatory (LTOS) which will, in its initial stage, be using available technology (solid state sensors) tethered or untethered in the Area under approved plan of works for exploration. If technology permits, this system will be upgraded.
It is anticipated that the information collected will provide valuable insight on the understanding of ecosystems of the deep sea in the Area. This initiative will be fostered by stakeholders working in the Area (contractors, scientific community, ICPC, others).
Stakeholders will benefit directly with the information gathered allowing them to respond to environmental issues of global concern. Deep sea mining contractors holding approved plan of works will be able to provide sound environmental assessments of their particular sites, concerning the ecosystems understanding and its functions. In turns, the ISA as well as Member States will be allowed to provide assertive environmental management plans for all the deep sea habitats where plan of work for mineral exploration have already been approved.
The LTOS will be tested for a year on one site and thereafter will be reproduced in all the oceans basins, where plans of work for mineral exploration have already been approved, in consecutive years, if funding permits.