Since its founding in 2011, the High Seas Alliance (HSA) with its 40+ non-governmental members and the International Union for Conservation of Nature has been working towards protecting the 50% of the planet that is the high seas. As the region of the global ocean that is beyond national jurisdiction, the high seas includes some of the most biologically important, least protected, and most critically threatened ecosystems in the world.
HSA members work together to inspire, inform and engage the public, decision-makers and experts to support and strengthen high seas governance and conservation, as well as cooperating towards the establishment of high seas protected areas.
Our current priority is to ensure that an intergovernmental conference taking place at the United Nations from 2018-2021 for the development of a new legally binding treaty under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea results in robust protection for marine biological diversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction. The next two years are a particularly critical time as States from around the world negotiate the content of the treaty.
Currently, there are no legally binding mechanisms for establishing marine protected areas outside States’ territorial seas, or for undertaking environmental impact assessments. Yet increasing impacts from overfishing, climate change, deep-seabed mining and shipping continue to negatively affect biodiversity on the high seas.
HSA is working to ensure that treaty negotiations result in robust and effective conservation measures that address gaps in current ocean governance.
We are now in the conclusive stages of the negotiations, with the fourth and final intergovernmental conference (IGC4) scheduled for August 2021. The need for a strong final push and elevated political will from States is required now more than ever if we are to adopt a new high seas treaty at IGC4 and ensure the protections the high seas so desperately deserves. The treaty is a once in a generation opportunity to shift the status quo of high seas governance and management and protect nearly half the planet.