On Wednesday, June 18, the High Seas Alliance showcased a visual journey of the high seas with photographs by leading marine photojournalists generously provided by the International League of Conservation Photographers. Moderated by Lisa Speer, Director of the International Oceans Program at Natural Resources Defense Council, the panel included Charlotte Vick, Mission Blue and Google Earth “Explore the Ocean” curator, Dr. Kirsten r, Ph.D., Marine Ecologist at Oregon State University, and Kristina Gjerde, IUCN Global Marine and Polar Programme.
Charlotte Vick presented the high seas photo exhibit describing many high seas species that act as “connectors” among us, and that “other species on earth are like family to many of us.” Dr. Grorud-Colvert, who leads The Science of Marine Reserves, summarized her research that shows that marine reserves usually boost the abundance, diversity, and size of marine species living within their borders. Notably, the difference in “no take” marine reserves and partial protected MPAs is significant because full protection clearly provides more benefits than lower levels of protection. Moreover, long-term protection results in many more benefits to fish populations because certain long-lived animals and coral reefs may take decades to centuries to recover from human exploitation.
Kristina Gjerde presented a policy overview of MPAs, highlighting the global commitments that have already been made over the last 30 years, most recently, through the CBD Aichi Target 11 in 2010. She noted that while sectoral approaches are important, they are insufficient because they are usually short-term, lack a mechanism to ensure coordination, and lack common criteria or scientific advice. Ms. Gjerde concluded that an implementing agreement would provide a specific mandate through which to submit MPA proposals, and provide a mechanism for international endorsement of agreed management measures.
At the conclusion, Moderator Lisa Speer fielded a number of questions from the audience, commenting that “the high seas is a reservoir of amazing species, and when they are fully protected, they can recover much faster with robust results. We have the science, we know where the areas are, and we have managed them for decades within our own zones. We need to now provide the same protection globally.”
Cover photo by Florian Schulz