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e-CFR data is current as of January 15, 2021

Title 15Subtitle BChapter IXSubchapter DPart 971 → Subpart A


Title 15: Commerce and Foreign Trade
PART 971—DEEP SEABED MINING REGULATIONS FOR COMMERCIAL RECOVERY PERMITS


Subpart A—General


Contents
§971.100   Purpose.
§971.101   Definitions.
§971.102   Nature of permits.
§971.103   Prohibited activities and restrictions.
§971.104   OMB control number.

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§971.100   Purpose.

The purpose of this part is to implement the responsibilities and authorities of the Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) pursuant to Public Law 96-283, the Deep Seabed Hard Mineral Resources Act (the Act), to issue to eligible United States citizens permits for the commercial recovery of deep seabed hard minerals.

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§971.101   Definitions.

For purposes of this part, the term

(a) Act means the Deep Seabed Hard Mineral Resources Act (Pub. L. 96-283; 94 Stat. 553; 30 U.S.C. 1401 et seq.);

(b) Administrator means the Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or the Administrator's designee;

(c) Affected State means any State with a coastal zone management program approved under Section 306 of the Coastal Zone Management Act, as amended, where coastal zone land and water uses are affected by the issuance of a commercial recovery permit under the provisions of the Act or this part;

(d) Applicant means an applicant for a commercial recovery permit pursuant to the Act and this part; as used in subparts H, I and J of this part, “applicant” also means an applicant for an exploration license pursuant to the Act and part 970 of the title. “Applicant” also means a proposed permit transferee;

(e) Commercial recovery means—

(1) Any activity engaged in at sea to recover any hard mineral resource at a substantial rate for the primary purpose of marketing or commercially using such resource to earn a net profit, whether or not such net profit is actually earned;

(2) If such recovered hard mineral resource will be processed at sea, such processing; and

(3) If the waste of such activity to recover any hard mineral resource, or of such processing at sea, will be disposed of at sea, such disposal;

(f) Continental Shelf means—

(1) The seabed and subsoil of the submarine areas adjacent to the coast, but outside the area of the territorial sea, to a depth of 200 meters or, beyond that limit to where the depth of the superjacent waters admits of the exploitation of the natural resources of such submarine area; and

(2) The seabed and subsoil of similar submarine areas adjacent to the coast of islands;

(g) Controlling interest, for purposes of paragraph (v)(3) of this section, means a direct or indirect legal or beneficial interest in or influence over another person arising through ownership of capital stock, interlocking directorates or officers, contractual relations, or other similar means, which substantially affect the independent business behavior of such person;

(h) Deep seabed means the seabed, and the subsoil thereof to a depth of ten meters, lying seaward of and outside—

(1) The Continental Shelf of any nation; and

(2) Any area of national resource jurisdiction of any foreign nation, if such area extends beyond the Continental Shelf of such nation and such jurisdiction is recognized by the United States;

(i) Environment or environmental as used in the definitions of “irreparable harm” and “significant adverse environmental effect” means or pertains to the deep seabed and ocean waters lying at and within the permit area, and in surrounding areas including transportation corridors to the extent that they might be affected by the commercial recovery activities, and the living and non-living resources of those areas;

(j) Exploration means—

(1) Any at-sea observation and evaluation activity which has, as its objective, the establishment and documentation of—

(i) The nature, shape, concentration, location, and tenor of a hard mineral resource; and

(ii) The environmental, technical, and other appropriate factors which must be taken into account to achieve commercial recovery; and

(2) The taking from the deep seabed of such quantities of any hard mineral resource as are necessary for the design, fabrication and testing of equipment which is intended to be used in the commercial recovery and processing of such resource;

(k) Hard mineral resource means any deposit or accretion on, or just below, the surface of the deep seabed of nodules which include one or more minerals, at least one of which is manganese, nickel, cobalt, or copper;

(l) Irreparable harm means significant undesirable effects to the environment occurring after the date of the permit issuance which will not be reversed after cessation or modification of the activities authorized under the permit;

(m) Licensee means the holder of a license issued under NOAA regulations to engage in exploration;

(n) NOAA means the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration;

(o) Permittee means the holder of a permit issued or transferred under this part to engage in commercial recovery;

(p) Person means any United States citizen, any individual, and any corporation, partnership, joint venture, association, or other entity organized or existing under the laws of any nation;

(q) Reciprocating state means any foreign nation designated as such by the Administrator under section 118 of the Act;

(r) Recovery plan or commercial recovery plan means the plan submitted by an applicant for a commercial recovery permit pursuant to §971.203;

(s) Significant adverse environmental effect means: (1) Important adverse changes in ecosystem diversity, productivity, or stability of the biological communities within the environment; (2) threat to human health through direct exposure to pollutants or through consumption of exposed aquatic organisms; or (3) important loss of aesthetic, recreational, scientific or economic values;

(t) State agency means the agency responsible for implementing the responsibilities of section 306(c)(5) under the Coastal Zone Management Act, as amended, and 15 CFR part 930;

(u) United States means the several States, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, American Samoa, the United States Virgin Islands, Guam, and any other Commonwealth, territory, or possession of the United States; and

(v) United States citizen means—

(1) Any individual who is a citizen of the United States;

(2) Any corporation, partnership, joint venture, association, or other entity organized or existing under the laws of any of the United States; and

(3) Any corporation, partnership, joint venture, association, or other entity (whether organized or existing under the laws of any of the United States or a foreign nation) if the controlling interest in such entity is held by an individual or entity described in paragraph (v)(1) or (v)(2).

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§971.102   Nature of permits.

(a) A permit issued under this part authorizes the holder thereof to engage in commercial recovery within a specific portion of the sea floor consistent with the provisions of the Act and this part and consistent with the specific terms, conditions, and restrictions (TCRs) applied to the permit by the Administrator.

(b) A permit issued under this part is exclusive with respect to the holder thereof as against any other United States citizen or any citizen, national or governmental agency of, or any legal entity organized or existing under the laws of, any reciprocating state.

(c) A valid existing license under 15 CFR part 970 will entitle the holder, if otherwise eligible under the provisions of the Act and implementing regulations, to a permit for commercial recovery from an area selected from within the license area. Such a permit will recognize the right of the holder to recover hard mineral resources, and to own, tranport, use, and sell hard mineral resources recovered under the permit and in accordance with the requirements of the Act and this part.

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§971.103   Prohibited activities and restrictions.

(a) Prohibited activities and exceptions. (1) No United States citizen may engage in any commercial recovery unless authorized to do so under—

(i) A permit issued pursuant to the Act and implementing regulations;

(ii) A license, permit or equivalent authorization issued by a reciprocating state; or

(iii) An international agreement which is in force with respect to the United States.

(2) The prohibitions of paragraph (a)(1) of this section do not apply to any of the following activities:

(i) Scientific research, including that concerning hard mineral resources;

(ii) Mapping, or the taking of any geophysical, geochemical, oceanographic, or atmospheric measurements or random bottom samplings of the deep seabed, if such taking does not significantly alter the surface or subsurface of the seabed or significantly affect the environment;

(iii) The design, construction, or testing of equipment and facilities which will or may be used for exploration or commercial recovery, if such design, construction or testing is conducted onshore, or does not involve the recovery of any but incidental hard mineral resources;

(iv) The furnishing of machinery, products, supplies, services, or materials for any exploration or commercial recovery conducted under a license or permit issued under the Act and implementing regulations, a license or permit or equivalent authorization issued by a reciprocating state, or any relevant international agreement; and

(v) Activities, other than exploration or commercial recovery activities, of the Federal Government.

(3) No United States citizen may interfere or participate in interference with any activity conducted by any permittee which is authorized to be undertaken under a permit issued by the Administrator to a permittee under the Act or with any activity conducted by the holder of, and authorized to be undertaken under, a license or permit or equivalent authorization issued by a reciprocating state for the commercial recovery of hard mineral resources. For purposes of this section, interference includes physical interference with activities authorized by the Act, this part, and a license or permit issued pursuant thereto; the filing of a specious claim in the United States or any other nation; and any other activity designed to harass, or which has the effect of harassing, persons conducting deep seabed mining activities authorized by law. Interference does not include the exercise of any superior rights granted to United States citizens by the Constitution of the United States, or any Federal or State law, treaty, or agreement or regulation promulgated pursuant thereto.

(4) United States citizens shall exercise their rights on the high seas with reasonable regard for the interests of other states in their exercise of the freedoms of the high seas.

(b) Restrictions on issuance of permits. The Administrator will not issue any permit—

(1) After the date on which any relevant international agreement is ratified by and enters into force with respect to the United States, except to the extent that issuance of the permit is not inconsistent with that agreement.

(2) The recovery plan of which, submitted pursuant to the Act and implementing regulations, would apply to an area to which applies, or would conflict with:

(i) Any exploration plan or recovery plan submitted with any pending application to which priority of right for issuance applies under 15 CFR part 970 or this part;

(ii) Any exploration plan or recovery plan associated with any existing license or permit; or

(iii) An equivalent authorization which has been issued, or for which formal notice of application has been submitted, by a reciprocating state prior to the filing date of any relevant application for licenses or permits pursuant to the Act and implementing regulations;

(3) Authorizing commercial recovery within any area of the deep seabed in which exploration is authorized under a valid existing license if such permit is issued to a person other than the licensee for such area;

(4) Which authorizes commercial recovery to commence before January 1, 1988;

(5) The recovery plan for which applies to any area of the deep seabed if, within the 3-year period before the date of application for that permit:

(i) The applicant therefor surrendered or relinquished such area under an exploration plan or recovery plan associated with a previous license or permit issued to such applicant; or

(ii) A permit previously issued to the applicant had an exploration plan or recovery plan which applied to such area and such license or permit was revoked under section 106 of the Act;

(6) Or approve the transfer of a permit, except to a United States citizen; or

(7) That would authorize commercial recovery activities in an area other than for which the applicant therefore holds a valid exploration license under part 970 of this title.

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§971.104   OMB control number.

The information collection requirements and reporting and recordkeeping requirements contained in this part were approved by the Office of Management and Budget under control number 0648-0170.

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