United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 14 urges the global community to ‘Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources’. This is a welcome step towards moving marine conservation up the agenda and linking it into the bigger picture of human and environmental development.
Nevertheless, while there is still so much to discover about the oceans that make up over 90 per cent of the world’s habitable space, increasing evidence shows that they are being profoundly affected by human activities in ways we are only just beginning to understand. This is particularly true for the High Seas – those areas which lie outside of any national jurisdiction and are therefore effectively unregulated – and the Deep Seas, which we still know so little about.
There have been indications recently that the oceans are starting to get some of the long overdue attention they deserve. The recent UN Oceans Conference (June, 2017) set out to be “the game changer that will reverse the decline in the health of our ocean for people, planet and prosperity.” The recent proliferation of vast Marine Protected Areas (effective or otherwise), the focus on marine plastics in the media and appearance on some government agendas and the attention given to devastating coral reef bleaching events appears to have given some momentum to efforts to protect the oceans.
At Synchronicity Earth we have made supporting work in the Deep and High Seas a priority. The latest news from our ocean partners is encouraging and we hope it can contribute to the growing momentum around the oceans.
High Seas Alliance
The high seas are areas which “belong” to no one, but which everyone has access to, a situation which has contributed to to mass and uncontrolled overexploitation of crucially important marine habitats and ecosystems. At the moment, they are managed by bodies that have no legal mandate to protect their endangered and unique biodiversity, but the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) is currently in the midst of discussions towards developing a first of its kind international agreement on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in the high seas.
The past few months have been a crucially important time for our partner, the High Seas Alliance (HSA), as it plays a vital role in ensuring the decisions made around this international agreement keep the conservation of biodiversity at their core. From flooding the discussions with crocheted “squidlets” to producing reports on the urgent need for conservation in the high seas and working directly with key pro-Treaty governments, the HSA is making sure that this Treaty will be strong enough to protect the precious biodiversity in our oceans.
A High Seas Alliance crocheted “squidlet”.
Deep Sea Conservation Coalition
Closely tied in with the protections of the high seas is the regulation of the hugely uncontrolled deep-sea fishing industry. Our partner, the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition (DSCC), has made incredible progress in achieving this goal in the past few months. After the publishing of an independent report by the DSCC analysing the implementation of UNGA resolutions on the deep sea, a new and improved resolution was adopted by the UNGA in December. This resolution urged precautionary measures around deep-sea fishing, addressed the impacts of climate change on deep-sea ecosystems, and called on bodies to protect vulnerable marine ecosystems.
Find out more about the marine conservation work we support on our Oceans pages.