Main Content

The High Seas Belong to the Planet and Us All

by

Maria Damanaki

Global Managing Director, Oceans, The Nature Conservancy

March 2016

Yellowstripe Scads in the waters of Dampier Strait off the Raja Ampat Islands of Indonesia. Photo © Jeff Yonder.
Yellowstripe Scads in the waters of Dampier Strait off the Raja Ampat Islands of Indonesia. Photo © Jeff Yonder.

This week could herald the beginning of a new era in Ocean conservation, as negotiations begin at the United Nations in New York for a new legally binding treaty which could cover over half the planet—or in other words, the high seas.

The high seas, or the open ocean, constitute the largest ecosystem on the planet. In an increasingly mapped and divided planet, the high seas remain an anomaly with little regulation and even less monitoring and enforcement.

The high seas are part of the global commons and governed collectively by all nations—hence every country has a seat at the table.

Many marine species—such as whales, tunas and sharks—spend much of their lives on the high seas, migrating along the highways and byways of great Ocean basins from feeding, to spawning grounds and back again.

Other species spend their entire lives in the high seas, living and breeding along the mighty submerged mountain ranges that span the global ocean.

The high seas also provide critical ecosystem services for our planet. These include climate regulation, along with the fact that Ocean provides every second breath we take.

Universal, coherent and sustainable regulation is crucial.

We know that the ocean, if helped, is resilient. Fish stocks can rebound, wildlife can return, corals can regenerate, but not without our help.

Strong, international cooperation is the only way to ensure healthy oceans and a healthy future for our blue planet.


Originally Posted on Conservancy Talk

March 30, 2016