Pacific countries are gathering in Tonga this week for a series of talks about the future of seabed mining in the region.
A number of countries - including Papua New Guinea, Nauru and Cook Islands - are looking to exploit minerals on the sea floor, and some exploratory projects have already begun.
But to do this, they need to meet the regulations set by the International Seabed Authority, the multinational organisation that governs the ocean floor.
Its secretary general, Michael Lodge, said countries looking to seabed mining have to meet a number of criteria.
"For example, before you can even think of exploiting a resource you need to take two critical steps. That is you need to (a), understand what the resource is and then, secondly, you have to characterise and understand the marine environment to understand what is there and what is the potential environmental impact. And that's what we're encouraging countries to do now."