Survey on protected hydrothermal vent sites

In response to the ISA’s request for information on hydrothermal sites of exceptional scientific value, InterRidge is seeking nominations from the scientific community for sites considered vulnerable to exploitation.In May 2010, the ISA ( put in place its "Regulations for Prospecting and Exploration for Polymetallic Sulphides", allowing member states to submit applications for licences to prospect the mineral deposits at hydrothermal vent fields in High Seas areas. The ISA has already received one licence application, for polymetalic sulphide exploration on the South West Indian Ocean. Early next year the Legal and Technical Committee (LTC) of the ISA will meet to advise on this first application. However, there is an opportunity to inform the LTC of sites worldwide, or general principles, that should be considered for protection from future prospecting activities.The InterRidge office is preparing a report for the ISA’s LTC  regarding vent sites that are identified as being of exceptional scientific or cultural importance and hence require special consideration before mineral prospecting licenses are issued. Prior to responding to our call for information regarding these valuable hydrothermal sites, please review the ISA regulations and their implications related to scientific research at vent sites. The mining code is at: Details of these regulations can be found at:ISA 16th session documents: of Assembly: regulations: of Council: of outstanding issues: If you are working, or have worked, at vent sites that you consider especially important and require special consideration, please complete the InterRidge survey form and return it to the IR office as soon as possible. The IR office will then collate the responses by the end of January 2011, post them on the InterRidge web site and pass them to the ISA's LTC.The form contains three broad possible criteria for the LTC to consider for the protection of sites: "scientific" (e.g. sites of ongoing time-series studies); "conservation" (sites that host unique faunal populations, or are vital for connectivity of populations); and "other" (which could include historical, aesthetic, or cultural reasons - for example, if a site is the resting place of human remains).Please complete all fields as fully as possible - particularly those requesting a relevant publication reference for any criterion that you indicate. Please include as many sites as you judge necessary and are personally familiar with; the IR office will compile multiple responses into a single list. Please attach completed forms to an email to the IR office ( addition to advising the ISA, the IR office will also submit responses with relevant criteria to GOBI, the Global Ocean Biodiversity Initiative (, which seeks to identify ecologically and biologically significant areas in High Seas)./p>Best regards,Jon Copley, IR Co-Chair