A new international effort hopes to stem the tide of illegal and under-regulated fishing and otherwise protect the ocean from a range of threats, to benefit everyone. The nations of the world have launched a historic two-year process to create the first-ever international treaty to protect life in the high seas.
Peggy Kalas, Coordinator of the High Seas Alliance (HSA), focuses on the importance of preserving the biodiversity of the high seas, as well as combatting climate change, overfishing and plastic pollution.
States meeting at the United Nations in New York today took an important step towards launching negotiations for a new treaty to protect the biodiversity of the high seas (areas beyond the national jurisdiction). Making up two thirds of the global ocean, marine life in the high seas is not effectively protected. A new treaty will rectify this, putting in place measures to protect the rich and globally significant biodiversity and ecosystem services of the high seas and to govern activities undertaken there sustainably.
Findings support urgent need for heightened high seas governance and conservation
New York, Wednesday 11th July 1901hrs - As States meet at the United Nations for the final round of negotiations towards a possible high seas treaty, a new scientific review of recent ocean research shows more clearly than ever the importance of ocean services, its critical role to humankind and the rate and scale of the changes occurring due to climate change and other human impacts.
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.