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The International Seabed Authority is an autonomous international organization established under the Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982 and Agreement on the implementation of Part XI of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 28 July 1994. The Authority has, among other things, the following tasks:
- to draw up rules, regulations and procedures for the prospection, exploration and exploitation of the mineral resources of the Area,
- to draw up regional environmental management plans for the Area,
- to monitor the activities of the contractors,
- to detect and penalise violations by contractors,
- to promote marine scientific research in the Area and encourage knowledge transfer from deep sea research and technology to developing countries,
- to draw up rules for the distribution among member states of the revenue from the Area, and
- to take economic measures to help developing countries that suffer serious negative effects on their export earnings or economy as a result of placing minerals from the Area on the market.
The Belgian federal government has, among other things, the task to:
- make the rules, regulations and procedures of the Authority applicable to Belgian nationals and companies,
- support the Authority in the supervision of Belgian contractors,
- draw up certificates of sponsorship for Belgian nationals or companies, as far as they meet the technical and financial requirements,
- where necessary, draw up additional rules relating to the protection of the marine environment, the protection of human lives and the conditions applicable to the installations used to perform work in the Area,
- detect and penalise violations by Belgian nationals or companies of the additional rules,
- detect and penalise violations by Belgian nationals or companies that are no contractors,
- inform the Belgian public.
The following federal services are involved in this activity:
- the service Continental Shelf of the Federal Public Service Economy, SMEs, Self-employed and Energy,
- the direction International Public Law of the Federal Public Service Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation,
- the service Marine Environment of the Federal Public Service Health, Food Chain Safety and Environment,
- the directorate-general Shipping of the Federal Public Service Mobility and Transport,
- the direction Scientific programmes of the Federal Public Planning Service Science Policy, and
- the scientific service Management Unit of the Mathematical Model of the North Sea of the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences.
In order to ensure cooperation between these services and contacts with Belgian contractors and concerned environmental non-governmental organisations, consultative meetings are organized at least twice a year.