The first ever UN Ocean Conference came to a close on June 9 with a "Call For Action", over 1,300 voluntary commitments made to support ocean health, and aspirations for a new convention to protect biodiversity in the roughly half of our planet which lies beyond national jurisdictions.
One of the major issues arising from the Ocean Conference is the need for a treaty to protect the high seas covering half the planet. The momentum exists because States are returning to the UN next month for their final scheduled Preparatory Meeting, determining whether or not to open up formal negotiations through an Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) in 2018. The High Seas Alliance will be working at the PrepCom to try to ensure this happens.
"...And the new, binding treaty for high seas biodiversity can – to borrow a phrase – be the next “giant leap for humankind”. It may make it possible to create MPAs on the high seas, and protect their resources for the shared benefit of all. I urge the people charged with negotiating this Treaty to be bold, to give this Treaty teeth and vision, and make it a game-changing “Paris Agreement” for the ocean."
At the first ever high level UN Ocean Conference in New York (June 5 – 9), nations will gather to discuss how they can turn the tide on ocean degradation. This occurs just a matter of weeks before States convene at the UN to determine the fate of the high seas and marine protection groups say the two cannot be disconnected.
Protecting marine biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction
Source: The Pew Charitable Trusts Author: Liz Karen
In June 2015, world leaders made the extraordinary decision to develop an international agreement on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction, including the high seas. These areas make up two-thirds of the world’s ocean but are managed by a patchwork of bodies that regulate fishing, mining, shipping, and other activities for specific areas of the ocean. These bodies lack the legal mandate to establish comprehensive marine protected areas and marine reserves, or other conservation policies to protect biodiversity throughout an ecosystem.
Une négociation quelque peu passée inaperçue est en cours à l'ONU à propos de la gestion des océans. Les sept signataires de cette tribune attirent l'attention sur un rendez-vous international crucial pour l'avenir des nombreux écosystèmes marins menacés.
It is a crucial time for the high seas, as government representatives from around the world gather at UN Headquarters from March 27th to April 7th for the 3rd PrepCom to discuss an international legally binding instrument on marine biodiversity.
In a pivotal year for ocean protection, government representatives from over 40 countries convened in Lisbon on the 2nd and 3rd of March, at the invitation of the Portuguese government, to discuss a new treaty to protect the high seas.
SCOTT BASE, Antarctica — A group of hikers in red parkas approached a half-dozen seals resting on floating sea ice. The leader of the entourage — Secretary of State John Kerry — raised his arms and ordered everyone to halt.
As an ethereal silence descended, Mr. Kerry cocked his head in the stillness of one of the world’s last truly wild places.
In that moment, the frozen landscape seemed timeless, but it is actually in grave peril, as Mr. Kerry had been told by scientists only minutes before. The ice across large parts of West Antarctica may be starting to disintegrate because of global warming, and if it goes, the world’s coastal cities face destruction, too.
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 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.