Protecting the Ocean We Need - Securing the Future We Want

The High Seas Alliance (HSA), with its 32 non-government members, as well as the IUCN, has been working towards protecting approximately 50% of the planet that is the high seas, since its founding in 2011. As the region of the global ocean that is beyond national jurisdiction, the high seas includes some of the most biologically important, least protected, and most critically threatened ecosystems in the world.

HSA members work together to inspire, inform and engage the public, decision-makers and experts to support and strengthen high seas governance and conservation, as well as to cooperate toward the establishment of high seas protected areas.  As such, our current priority is a new international legally binding treaty under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea that will protect biological diversity in the high seas and seabed.

Currently, there is no legal mechanism with which to establish marine protected areas outside of States’ territorial seas, nor a mechanism to undertake environmental impact assessments. At the same time, increasing impacts from human activity, through overfishing, deep-seabed mining and shipping, as well as climate change, continue to negatively affect biodiversity on the high seas. HSA is working to ensure that current United Nations discussions around the new treaty result in recommendations for robust and effective conservation measures that address gaps in current ocean governance.

Gudni Th. Johannesson, the newly elected President of Iceland has said that “We need to defend the ecosystems of the world ocean, stop pollution, warming and ocean acidification as well as excessive fisheries beyond national jurisdiction” in an address to a meeting organized by the Iceland Nature Conservation Association (INCA) and the High Seas Alliance.

The last day of the 2016 preparatory meeting for a new marine biodiversity treaty concludes at United Nations Headquarters in New York today.

By: Richard Blaustein

The high seas are critical to life on Earth. They constitute over 50 percent of the planet's area and over 90 percent of the habitable volume, with depths of 200 meters or more. Researchers continue to discover amazing life forms in the deep sea. But this rich biota faces a host of threats, from climate-change-related ocean acidification to pollution, deep-water trawling, and overfishing. Recently, scientists added to the list declining oxygen levels.<--break->