A Guam-based lawyer says the international community's legal position largely ignores environmental safeguards when it comes to Deep Sea Mining.
Blue Ocean Law's Julian Aguon says the International Seabed Authority does not give due consideration to the precautionary principle or the prevention of transboundary harm when issuing exploration licenses.
These safeguards ensure unknown risks to the environment or international neighbours outweigh potential economic gains.
Mr Aguon said some Pacific communities' right to free and prior informed consent, a legal mechanism designed to engage native peoples, is also being ignored.
He said the impact of deep sea mining, or DSM, on biodiversity, climate change and the rights of indigenous people is not well understood.
"In PNG, where experimental DSM is already underway with the Canadian company Nautilus Minerals off the New Ireland coast, villagers have already reported high incidents of dead fish washing up on shore including strange deep sea creatures that are not familiar to anyone and are actually hot to the touch," said Julian Aguon.