High & Deep Seas
Poor governance is at the heart of the threats facing the high and deep seas. As the high seas and most of the deep seas lie beyond national jurisdiction, they are governed by regulations laid out by the United Nations, rather than by the laws of one government. These regulations were drawn up in the 1970s, at a time when the exploitation of resources in the high and deep seas was limited by the technology available.
The current system of governance for the vast area of ocean that is the high seas is inadequate. To protect marine biodiversity and reduce abuses at sea, a global biodiversity treaty for the ocean is urgently needed.
Our programme support work to protect ocean biodiversity by:
Drawing attention to the impact of the current lack of effective regulation on species diversity and abundance in the high seas.
The existing framework and regulations are not working. Under the current system, basic regulations, such as the requirement to set up marine protected areas to carry out environmental impact assessments, are entirely missing on the high seas.
Supporting civil society to advocate for a strong, legally binding high seas biodiversity treaty.
The situation is extremely complex, but there are incredible opportunities to bring about significant change in how this forgotten area of the planet is governed. One of these is to engage with the UN to develop a stronger relationship with the UN to develop a ‘Paris Agreement for the ocean.’
Working with our partners to keep up momentum as we enter a critical phase of negotiations for a high seas biodiversity treaty.
Full-scale negotiations for this new treaty started in 2018. The next two to four years are a pivotal time to fund change. The current level of exploitation of the high seas cannot continue. There is an urgent need to keep up momentum and develop advocacy that leads to more effective governance of the global commons.
“The high seas are facing a cycle of declining ecosystem health and productivity. it is our joint responsibility to act urgently and decisively to reverse the decline of this immense global commons. Failure to do so would be an unforgivable betrayal of current and future generations.”
Global Ocean Commission, 2014
Working together for better High Seas protection
Partner Profile: The High Seas Alliance (HSA)
The HSA is a coalition of 35 non-governmental conservation organisations as well as the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). It has been using its expertise in policy, advocacy, and communications to lobby for a high seas biodiversity treaty that has the ability to enforce strong conservation measures. The HSA has been instrumental in getting us to this point and is crucial to delivering a treaty with impact. It has consistently strategically leveraged the capacity of its member organisations to execute an effective and powerful campaign.
“The ocean is not meant to be a thing we use or a place where we extract resources or dump waste. It is a vast habitat that we should leave alone or, better still, protect and help to flourish. Less meant to fill our wallets or stomachs, the ocean is an opportunity to expand our humanity, foster biodiversity, and prove our ability to live in balance with the rest of the planet’s occupants.”
Ian Urbina, journalist and author of The Outlaw Ocean