Protecting the Ocean We Need - Securing the Future We Want


UN BBNJ Plenary meeting

The new phase of the United Nations high seas marine biodiversity (BBNJ)* process begins today in New York, with States meeting to begin consideration of a new Implementing Agreement (IA) under the Law of the Sea Convention (UNCLOS).

The Tenth Session of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is meeting at the United Nations in New York from 31 March-4 April. The High Seas Alliance and Deep Sea Conservation Coalition have made a submission on proposed elements for inclusion in an Ocean SDG: Achieve healthy, productive and resilient oceans.

Filling the Governance Gaps
Scope, Parameters and Feasibility of a High Seas Marine Biodiversity Agreement
Wednesday, April 2 1:15-2:45 Conference Room 2 CB

Our ocean is at risk as man’s increasing impact on the oceans have put cumulative stresses that threaten not only vulnerable sealife and marine ecosystems, but potentially, human health and serious socio-economic costs. The current governance of marine areas beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJ) is characterized by a fragmented and often incoherent patchwork of regional and sectoral regimes.  The time has come for a shift in the past ocean governance paradigm, one that fills the current gaps and expands to be effective for both emerging and future unknown uses.

A healthy ocean is essential to sustaining life on Earth. However, scientific assessments reveal that the loss of marine biodiversity is increasingly harming the ocean’s ability to provide food, maintain water quality, and recover from adverse impacts. Degraded ecosystems, such as those that have lost biodiversity, are less resilient to increased pressure, in particular those resulting from climate change. 

For immediate release - Responding to the release of a message by senior Ministers attending an Ocean meeting in Ajaccio, Corsica, the High Seas Alliance welcomed the strong support shown for legal measures to protect biodiversity in the high seas.

The Ministerial meeting, which was held under the patronage of French President Hollande and involved Ministers from around the world, 'solemnly' called for the international community to take the necessary steps to launch negotiations towards an Implementing Agreement under the UN Law of the Sea, before the end of 2014.

The High Seas Alliance is coordinating an effort to collect scientists’ support for a high seas biodiversity agreement. It urges countries to honor the commitment made by governments at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development Rio+20 Conference.

An Open Letter from International Scientists on the need for a High Seas Biodiversity Agreement

At the end of the first post-Rio+20 meeting to consider legal measures for high seas protection, the High Seas Alliance (HSA) concluded that the ship has set sail; slowly and impeded by icy headwinds, but it has set sail.

Strong support to begin negotiations towards a new implementing agreement under the Law of the Sea Convention (UNCLOS) to protect and conserve marine biodiversity in the high seas came from many States including the G77 and China, the European Union, Australia, Mexico and New Zealand. But opposition, characterized by attempts to significantly slow forward momentum remained firm from a small minority.

In plenary on the afternoon of the final day, NGOs made interventions raising concern about the exclusion of NGOs from the BBNJ meeting and asked for assurances that the process will continue in an open and transparent manner.  The interventions made on behalf of the High Seas Alliance and its members can be seen below.

During this morning's plenary session, NGOs were excluded from further discussions at the BBNJ meeting, as States were moved into 'closed' working groups.

In contravention of the Aarhus Convention and following similar behaviour at the meeting last year, the Chair ruled that the meeting would continue behind closed doors.

The High Seas Alliance is lodging a statement of concern and asking for the decision to be overturned.  

Momentum continued at the BBNJ today with States making progress towards fulfilling their Rio+20 commitments. 

More news tomorrow.

United Nations

On the first day of the UN meeting to consider biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction, (known as BBNJ) the European Union, G77 & China and the Pacific, Small Island and Developing States, groups were amongst those to speak strongly in favour of an Implementing Agreement under the UN Law of the Sea Convention (UNCLOS).

​One of the few positive outcomes from Rio+20 was the commitment of the international community to urgently address the need for high seas conservation including through a possible new Agreement under the Law of the Sea. The United Nations BBNJ (biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction) meeting in New York August 19 - 23 is the first time since Rio that states have sat down to actually address this and to determine whether or not the will to achieve an Agreement exists.

London, UK - The High Seas Alliance welcomes the announcement on July 23rd by the European Union to promote a process for negotiations for an UNCLOS Implementing Agreement to be launched as soon as possible.

The High Seas Alliance, a coalition of 30 member organizations, agrees that the need to protect the high seas, which makes up 50% of the planet, is increasingly urgent and must be addressed without further delay.

This week at the United Nations in New York, countries from around the world will convene around the subject of protecting marine diversity on the high seas. As part of the work of the ‘The Ad Hoc open-ended informal working group to study issues relating to the conservation and sustainable use of marine Biodiversity Beyond areas of National Jurisdiction.’ – a long name shortened to BBNJ – intersessional workshops are being held to bring together experts and State representatives.


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