On 10 May 2023, a stakeholder event ‘Current Developments on Deep Seabed Mining and the Use of Area-Based Management Tools to Protect Hydrothermal Vents’ was hosted at Utrecht University. The event was organized by the Netherlands Institute for the Law of the Sea (NILOS), the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ), the Utrecht Centre for Water and Oceans and Sustainability Law (UCWOSL) of Utrecht University, as part of the joint UU-NIOZ project Protecting deep seabed hydrothermal vent fields through area-based management tools.

A wide range of stakeholders attended the event, including academics and representatives from non-governmental organizations (NGOs), industry, and government. The event had two sessions: the first presented different perspectives of deep seabed mining and engaged in discussions around the call for a deep seabed mining moratorium / precautionary pause; the second concerned protecting hydrothermal vents from the harmful effects of deep seabed mining and focused on concrete action that could be taken to ensure their protection.

The project ‘Protecting deep seabed hydrothermal vent fields through area-based management tools’ led by Utrecht University (NILOS and UCWOSL) and NIOZ (“the UU-NIOZ Project”) is a trans-disciplinary project between environmental scientists and international lawyers. It focuses on how hydrothermal vent fields, which face threats of harm from human activities, especially the imminent threat of deep seabed mining (DSM), can be protected using area-based management tools (ABMTs). The UU-NIOZ Project spans three years, January 2021 to December 2023.

The organizers of the stakeholder event (and members of the Joint UU-NIOZ Project) were Samantha Robb (NIOZ), Lise Klunder (NIOZ), Sabine Gollner(NIOZ), Catherine Blanchard (NILOS / UCWOSL), and Erik Molenaar (NILOS / UCWOSL)