On 1 March 2022, the International Seabed Authority (ISA) and the World Register of Marine Species (WoRMS) formalised their partnership to strengthen their mutual efforts on advancing deep-sea taxonomic standardisation in the area.
The National Oceanography Centre’s (NOC) Dr Tammy Horton is Chair of the Steering Committee for WoRMS, a project which aims to provide an authoritative and comprehensive list of names of marine organisms.
The collaboration between ISA and WoRMS will contribute to reinforce the quality of deep-sea taxonomic information and data contained in ISA DeepData database thanks to periodic scientific reviews between DeepData and WoRMS’ thematic subregister, the World Register of Deep-Sea Species (WoRDSS).
ISA and WoRMS will also strive to develop training and sensitization activities for ISA data providers and users of taxonomic data. This new collaboration will create the enabling conditions for the development of innovative taxonomic tools with a view to standardizing data exchange protocols and promoting the use of biodiversity information for scientific research in the international seabed area.
A fundamental element of the mandate assigned by UNCLOS to ISA in relation to the promotion and encouragement of marine scientific research in the Area is the duty for ISA to disseminate the results of all research undertaken in the Area through open and transparent data and information sharing. ISA also organizes access to non-confidential information and data, in particular data relating to the marine environment.
It is in this context that ISA and WoRMS have agreed to partner and cooperate with a view to make use of the comparative advantage of their respective information systems, DeepData and WoRMS. This new partnership will directly contribute to the objectives identified in the ISA Strategic Plan and High-level Action Plan for 2019-2023 as well as in the ISA Action Plan in Support of the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, which identifies standardization of methodologies for deep-sea biodiversity assessment, including taxonomic identification and description, in the Area, as one of its six Strategic Research Priorities.
WoRMS has been endorsed as an Ocean Decade project and will continue to build on its expertise to support global efforts towards enhanced understanding of taxonomic information of all marine life in support of scientific research, policy making and increased general public knowledge.