Author: Britney Hay
Beyond what the eye can see from our crystalline shores lies a vast and unexplored underwater world that sustains us all. Up to two-hundred nautical miles from State coastlines is the high seas, or international waters, making up more than half of the world’s ocean.
Author: Milla Heckler
In the Eastern Tropical Pacific, off the coast of Central America, there is a phenomenon that is persistent enough from year to year to be considered an oceanographic feature – it is referred to as the Costa Rica Thermal Dome and is an incredible marine biodiversity hotspot. Due to its high levels of biodiversity, the Dome is ripe for scientific discoveries and learning.
HSA has released its Spring 2021 Newsletter. To find out more about what the High Seas Alliance and its members are up to, click here.
Over 100 participants from 20 governments in the Middle East and North Africa region came together in January 2021 to discuss the urgent need for increased ocean protection to combat the escalating climate crisis and dramatic biodiversity loss worldwide. The virtual regional workshop was convened by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and supported by The Pew Charitable Trusts. The workshop outlined the benefits to people and the planet of an ambitious target to protect at least 30% of the planet’s land and sea by 2030 and the critical importance of a robust new High Seas treaty to deliver that goal.
Greenpeace ships Arctic Sunrise and the Rainbow Warrior are currently voyaging through the high seas of the Indian Ocean and the Pacific: crucial battlegrounds against destructive industries, home to unique ecosystems and surrounded by coastal communities that a strong Global Ocean Treaty would help protect.
To inform UN negotiations for a new International Legally-Binding Instrument for the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ Agreement) under UNCLOS, IUCN and DOSI, with support by the Swedish government, have been co-hosting a series of knowledge-building webinars on relevant themes. This effort is aimed at fostering momentum during the extended intersessional period of the negotiations, imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The overview and video recordings are available below.
Turkish Marine Research Foundation (TUDAV) met the representatives of major BBNJ institutions in Ankara, on March 23, 2021. The meeting was held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and attended by representatives from the Ministry of Urbanization and Environment and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.
The Latin American region’s positive leadership has been tangible towards the final phase of the negotiations for a new legally binding BBNJ Treaty.
In this context, High Seas Alliance representatives supported a webinar on capacity building and the transfer of marine technology hosted by Honduras and El Salvador on March 23rd, 2021. HSA provided support towards the organization and experts’ selections, as well as interpreters to facilitate the discussions between the participants and the experts.
In April 2021, the Coral Reefs of the High Seas Coalition launched its website. Coral reefs are widely regarded as one of the top conservation priorities globally, as these ecosystems harbor extraordinary biodiversity, provide many human benefits, and are highly vulnerable to impacts. While most of our knowledge of these critical ecosystems is derived from studies on nearshore reefs, coral reefs have also recently been documented on the high seas in many locations around the globe.
An important piece of evidence came to light with this new study that reveals that albatross and large petrels, spend circa 40% of their time in areas beyond national jurisdiction. The study combined over ten thousand movement tracks from 5,775 birds to estimate the relative year-round importance of national jurisdictions and high seas areas for 39 species of albatross and large petrels.
The results show that the high seas constitute the most important at-sea area for these birds globally, and in every ocean basin, indicating that effective management of international waters is of common, global interest. The study also reveals that all species regularly cross into the waters of other countries, meaning that no single nation can adequately ensure their conservation.