Marine Conservation Institute (MCI) continues its support of a strong UN treaty that will create lasting protections for high seas biodiversity, through its research, mapping and communications. By using its expertise in Geographic Information Systems and mapping, MCI’s scientists identify the locations of indicator species, mainly cold-water corals and sponges, that can be used to establish protections for Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems (VMEs) and protect the high seas. Its efforts to develop species distribution models help map species, and these provide international authorities with essential information for implementing protection measures. The Atlas of Marine Protection (MPAtlas.org) initiative is also a hub for tracking and analyzing VMEs and other high seas protection measures.
The MPAtlas.org team built the foremost online High Seas Protections tracker, an interactive map that evaluates protection and management measures including VMEs designated by regional fisheries management organizations. The tracker is updated it in real time following announcements, the adoption of management measures and the implementation of regulations, thus giving users a view into protection progress being made at conferences like the UN Intergovernmental Conference (IGC 1). MPAtlas.org also contributed to the recent Nature article by Olive Heffernan, “How to save the high seas”, which explored the state of high seas protection and what scientists think is needed for conservation success.