Indian Ocean Power Competition

Places in news: Afanasy Nikitin Seamount


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: International Seabed Authority (ISBA), AN Seamount

Mains level: NA

Why in the news?

  • India has applied to the International Seabed Authority (ISBA) for exploration rights in the Afanasy Nikitin (AN) Seamount in the Indian Ocean outside its jurisdiction.
  • India’s application is motivated by reports of Chinese vessels conducting reconnaissance in the same region, raising concerns about strategic interests and resource competition.

About International Seabed Authority (ISBA)


  • The ISBA is an intergovernmental organization established under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
  • It was established in 1994 and headquartered in Kingston, Jamaica.
  • ISA is tasked with regulating mineral-related activities in the international seabed area beyond national jurisdiction, which includes polymetallic nodules, polymetallic sulphides, and cobalt-rich ferromanganese crusts.
  • The Authority issues exploration and exploitation contracts to countries and private entities for deep-sea mining activities, subject to certain regulations and environmental safeguards.
  • ISA comprises various organs, including the Assembly, the Council, the Legal and Technical Commission, and the Secretariat, each with specific functions related to deep-sea mining regulation.
  • According to Article 156(2) of the UNCLOS, all UNCLOS parties are members of ISBA.
  • As of 2023 has 169 members, including 168 member states and the European Union.
  • India became a member of the UNCLOS in 1994.


About AN Seamount

  • The AN Seamount, located about 3,000 km from India’s coast, is a substantial structural feature in the Central Indian Ocean Basin.
  • A seamount is a large submarine landform that rises from the ocean floor without reaching the surface, and thus is not an island.
  • It is 400 km-long and 150 km-wide. From an oceanic depth of about 4,800 metres it rises to about 1,200 metres.
  • It was discovered during a marine research expedition, named after the Russian explorer Afanasy Nikitin.
  • It is renowned for its polymetallic nodules containing cobalt, nickel, manganese, and copper

Continental Shelf Claims and Implications

  • Sri Lanka has applied for continental shelf claims up to 500 nautical miles beyond its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), citing a special provision.
  • India, noting Chinese presence, has staked a claim for exploration rights to prevent future consequences.
  • India has also applied for permission to explore another region, spanning 3,00,000 square km, called the Carlsberg Ridge in the Central Indian Ocean to investigate for polymetallic sulphides, which are reportedly rich in copper, zinc, gold and silver.


2021: Consider the following statements:​

  1. The Global Ocean Commission grants licences for seabed exploration and mining in international waters.​
  2. India has received licences for seabed mineral exploration in international waters.​
  3. ‘Rare earth minerals’ are present on seafloor in international waters.​

Which of the statements given above are correct?​

a)    1 and 2 only ​

b)    2 and 3 only​

c)    1 and 3 only ​

d)    1, 2 and 3​


Practice MCQ:

Consider the following statements about the International Seabed Authority (ISBA):

  1. ISBA is an intergovernmental organization established under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
  2. All UN members are naturally parties to the ISBA.

Which of the given statements is/are correct?

a)    Only 1

b)    Only 2

c)    Both 1 and 2

d)    Neither 1 nor 2

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments


Join us across Social Media platforms.

💥Mentorship New Batch Launch
💥Mentorship New Batch Launch