"...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.
On August 31, the High Seas Alliance and Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) held a PrepCom side event where leading scientists presented the latest developments in ocean mapping and marine spatial planning technologies, and how these tools can be used by policy makers.
Scientists and underwater explorers have discovered submarine mountains scattered beneath the waves that harbor an incredible diversity of marine life. Known as seamounts, these extraordinary places are highly productive oases in the deep sea, and home to extremely fragile, long-lived, rare and sometimes endangered marine life. By rising up from the depths of the ocean to heights of at least 1,000 meters, seamounts increase the upwelling of nutrient rich waters resulting in a remarkable diversity of fishes and other open-ocean animals. Some seamounts function like rest stops for migratory species, such as endangered sperm whales, sea turtles, seabirds and sharks, on vast open-ocean journeys. These remote, deep areas are also a vital frontier for scientific discovery, as research expeditions continue to uncover new and rare marine species.