Hidden Wonders of the High Seas – a path to creating the first generation of high seas marine protected areas

HSA/Civil Society

How much do you know about the extraordinary species and habitats of the High Seas? Launching the Hidden Wonders of the Natural World campaign, we will be showcasing a few of the incredible biodiversity hotspots in the high seas that need priority protection and could become the first generation of High Seas MPAs under a new UN Treaty.

While the Climate COP 26 recognized the necessity for integrating the ocean into the UNFCCC process for the first time, it did little to abate rampant climate change and the need for a parallel process to protect the world’s most important carbon sink, the ocean, remains urgent.

Early next year, governments will meet at the UN for the final scheduled session to negotiate a new High Seas Treaty. The Treaty is intended to protect biodiversity in the international waters that make up roughly half the earth’s surface and has been under discussion since before the Rio+20 Summit in 2012.  Despite their global importance, these talks have garnered little attention to date, in part because they deal with the most remote and least explored parts of the world – the ocean beyond the jurisdiction of any state.  Although making up over 70% of the whole ocean, this area has scarcely any protection in place and is increasingly ravaged by overfishing and other human threats including the prospect of mining.  The ecosystems of the High Seas capture and store at least 1.5 billion tonnes of CO2 annually, are at the heart of our weather and water systems and a food chain essential to feeding upwards of a billion people.

 A robust High Seas Treaty will enable the creation of a network of large and well managed Marine Protected Areas to protect biodiversity and the Hidden Wonders highlighted in our campaign.

We need to make an immediate, concerted international effort to adopt a robust and ambitious Treaty. If you would like to see these special areas protected, tell your leaders by signing this petition, and support the conclusion of a robust Treaty as soon as possible.


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