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.
During the first week of negotiations, the High Seas Alliance, Greenpeace and Natural Resources Defense Council held a side event for government representatives entitled “Marine Reserves in the Era of Climate Change.” This well-attended event provided up to date scientific and other information about the important role played by area-based management tools (ABMTs), in particular marine reserves, in mitigating the effects of climate change.
The event was moderated by Lisa Speer, Director of the International Oceans Program at NRDC and opened with a presentation by Ms. Estrella V Tulay, Philippines Council for Agriculture and Fisheries. The Philippines has coordinated many successful meetings around regional cooperation on ocean matters and Ms. Tulay highlighted the importance of high seas MPAs within this context.
This was followed by a presentation from Dr. Douglas McCauley, UC Santa Barbara, on the numerous benefits of marine reserves in conserving and protecting marine biodiversity in the high seas. These include enhanced carbon storage, promotion of genetic diversity that supports adaptation and the protection of apex predators which ensures system stability. Dr. McCauley also highlighted that marine reserves can help to provide stepping stones for species forced into migration as a result of climate change.
This informative session wrapped up with a presentation by Dr. Veronica Frank, policy advisor for Greenpeace International, on the legal options for a process to designate, manage and implement marine protected areas and reserves in Areas beyond national jurisdiction. Ms. Frank pointed out that amongst all ABMTs, marine reserves are key tools to meet global conservation targets and special consideration needs to be given to their effectiveness in combating climate change. For further information, see here for their presentations.
Cover photo by High Seas Alliance