UN Negotiations

1 March, 2022

Partners of both the Global Tuna Alliance (GTA) and the Sustainable Seafood Coalition (SSC) – which includes every supermarket in the United Kingdom, plus nearly 50 other companies, have published a joint position on Marine Biodiversity of areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ) citing that although the supply chain rarely takes a stance on this topic, ‘biodiversity is everyone’s business.’

In advance of the fourth session of the BBNJ Intergovernmental Conference, seafood supply chain stakeholders have made their priorities clear. In their joint position, these businesses recognise commercial fisheries as the largest direct driver of biodiversity decline in the High Seas and call for the increased protection of these areas. They ask for Governments to conclude a robust global treaty as soon as possible, including provision of marine protected areas. This is the first ever public effort by members of the seafood sector to contribute to the BBNJ process in 15 years of negotiations.

 “BBNJ” refers to the marine life found in the ‘high seas’, and is known to be a murky and complex topic. The ‘high seas’ encompasses the water column that lies beyond national waters – specifically, they are outside of the Exclusive Economic Zone of any country, and equate to almost ½ of the Earth’s surface. The high seas are largely unexplored, vastly deep, and teeming with marine life. At the same time, they are under increasing threat from overfishing, mining, climate change, and pollution. Only around 1% are currently protected and – due to the lack of clear rules and effective enforcement that follows – the high seas are notoriously difficult to manage and often subject to contention. 

Nations across the world are working on creating an international legally-binding treaty to manage shared marine biodiversity in the high seas, and, until now, neither the GTA or SSC, or its partners, have stated individual positions on it. The coalition of retailers they comprise, though usually market competitors, have joined forces to publish a joint BBNJ position. They not only call on governments for action, but also hope that other organisations and businesses will be inspired to follow suit.

 The voice of the supply chain tends to focus on seafood matters rather than biodiversity, however all seafood – including tuna – is part of a wider ecosystem. The health of this ecosystem is integral to the sustainability of seafood for future generations.

Giles Bolton, Responsible Sourcing Director at Tesco said:

“At Tesco, we want to make it easier for our customers to buy affordable, healthy, sustainable food. We are committed to sourcing from healthy marine ecosystems, however, currently there’s no robust global conservation framework for fishing in areas beyond national jurisdiction, or the High Seas. As a partner of both the Global Tuna Alliance and the Sustainable Seafood Coalition, we are pleased a strong common position on Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdictions (BBNJ) has been established, and call on governments to accelerate action for a Robust High Seas Treaty, including a 30×30 commitment for a network of Marine Protected Areas.”

Under this joint position, all  UK supermarkets are included, along with nearly 50 other supply chain companies. This collaborative approach between competitive businesses is unique and amplifies the global responsibility that is necessary under the BBNJ treaty.

It’s the 21st century – sustainability is on everyone’s minds, especially with countries currently coming together for COP26. It was Paul Polman, ex-CEO of brand giant Unilever, who said, “Sustainability makes good business sense, and we’re all on the same team at the end of the day.” Competitors working together and taking ownership of social and environmental impacts makes it possible to achieve real, transformative change that no single group could achieve alone.

As well as profitable seafood supply chains, GTA and SSC partners want to source from healthy and sustainable fisheries, which are directly linked to a healthy marine ecosystem. This joint position demonstrates how these major retailers are thinking about the bigger picture, stepping forward to make noise and call on governments for action. Because after all, biodiversity is everyone’s business.


The Global Tuna Alliance (GTA) is an independent group of retailers and tuna supply chain companies who are committed to achieving more transparent, socially responsible, and environmentally sustainable tuna fisheries. Operating over 10,000 stores in 21 countries across five continents, they use their collective purchasing power to influence the policies set out by the tuna Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (tRFMOs).

Dr Tom Pickerell is the Executive Director of the GTA: tom@globaltunaalliance.com

The Sustainable Seafood Coalition (SSC) is a group of businesses that collaborate to tackle pressing sustainability challenges facing seafood supply chains in the UK. Its members represent all sectors of the seafood industry, from the largest retailers to individual fish and chip shops. Its vision is, quite simply, that all seafood sold in the UK comes from sustainable sources.

Oliver Tanqueray is the Sustainable Seafood Coalition Coordinator at ClientEarth: OTanqueray@clientearth.org

1 March, 2022

From 9-11 in Brest, France, world leaders, governments,  and civil society gathered in Brest, France at the One Ocean Summit,  under the leadership of French President Emmanuel Macron, coinciding with the French Presidency of the Council of the EU, to raise the collective level of ambition on ocean issues, along with concrete commitments and calls to action.  In the opening workshop of the Summit, High Seas Alliance Director, Peggy Kalas, moderated a high level panel on ocean governance that was co-chaired by Ambassador Rena Lee, President of the BBNJ Conference, included views on how to improve global ocean governance gaps as well as a call to action for conclusion of a robust BBNJ agreement in 2022 by Ambassador Waldemar Coutts, Director of Environment and Oceans for Chile.  Other speakers included Secretary-General Henry Puna from the Pacific Island Forum, Ambassador Walton Webson, Permanent Representative of Antigua and Barbuda to the United Nations, Secretary-General Michael Lodge of the International Seabed Authority, Professor Dire Tladi from University of Pretoria, Francoise Gaill, CNRS and Ocean-climate Platform, Eudes Riblier, President of Institut Francais de la Mer, and closing remarks from Miguel de Serpa Soares, Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs and United Nations Legal Counsel, and US Asst. Secretary of State, Monica Medina

On March 11, during the high level segment of the Summit, President of the European Commission, Ursula Von der Leyen announced the launching of a High Ambition Coalition on Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ) that was joined by over 40 Heads of State (including all EU Member States), to achieve an ambitious outcome of the BBNJ negotiations in 2022. 

Meanwhile, in the center of Brest, activists from Greenpeace France delivered a strong message calling for world leaders to deliver on their promises and turn words into action to protect the ocean.  The world will be watching as governments gather at the UN to negotiate treaty text in the fourth intergovernmental conference taking place at UN headquarters from 7-18 March.

1 April, 2020

World governments were due to meet at the United Nations in March/April this year for the final scheduled negotiation session to establish a new international legally-binding High Seas Treaty.

While these negotiations have been temporarily postponed, it is important to continue the work and momentum towards finalising negotiations and the adoption of this landmark treaty as early as possible.

Continue reading High Seas Alliance and Prospect Round Table

5 December, 2019

Source: Ocean as Common 

Le 8 juin 2018, nous lancions un Appel pour que l’Ocean soit reconnu comme bien commun de l’Humanité.

Ce mardi 2 décembre 2019, lors de son discours aux Assises de l’économie de la mer, le Président de la République, Emmanuel Macron, a posé ce principe comme fondement de la stratégie maritime de la France.
Dans une allocation portant haut l’ambition maritime pour la France, le chef de l’Etat a en effet déclaré : « La vision maritime que la France doit développer est claire : l’océan est un bien commun de l’humanité, … Un bien placé sous notre responsabilité collective et individuelle, de la haute mer aux eaux territoriales »

Continue reading La France à l’avant-garde de l’Ocean, Bien commun de l’Humanité

15 November, 2019

Good news for global governance of the ocean! The High Seas Alliance, a global partnership of 40 environmental NGOs and IUCN, has been selected as one of the 10 projects out of a total of 700 applicants, to be “scaled-up” over the next year through support and advice from the prestigious Paris Peace Forum.  Specifically, the Paris Peace Forum will promote HSA’s work to protect the ocean’s immense and unique biodiversity with a binding international governance treaty, currently being negotiated at the UN. 

Continue reading Paris Peace Forum Announcement

14 November, 2019

Peggy Kalas – We’re approaching a once in a generation opportunity for transformative change for the ocean – and we need to make it happen.

In 1967, Arvid Pardo delivered his landmark speech before the United Nations General Assembly urging countries to consider the resources of the ocean in areas beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJ) as “the common heritage of mankind” and the need for international cooperation to protect the ocean for future generations.

Continue reading Paris Peace Forum: High Ambitions for the High Seas

7 August, 2019

The High Seas Alliance welcomes the release of the draft text of an agreement under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction (see Draft Text), and congratulates the President of the Intergovernmental Conference, Ambassador Rena Lee, on this achievement.

Continue reading High Seas Alliance – Key Recommendation for IGC3 on the President’s Text

31 May, 2019

As negotiations progress for a new international legally binding instrument (‘Instrument’) on the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJ), the relationship of this new BBNJ Instrument to existing regional and sectoral organizations remains a point of intense debate. The new Instrument presents an opportunity to enhance the effectiveness of existing relevant legal instruments and organizations and bring forward a more coherent and comprehensive approach to the protection and conservation of marine biodiversity in the high seas. This briefing offers examples from existing regional and sectoral organizations to illustrate systemic challenges to conserving biodiversity in ABNJ under the current fragmented ocean governance system. These challenges include:

(i) implementation of the ecosystem and precautionary approach;
(ii) cooperation and communication across sectors;
(iii) adherence to scientific advice;
(iv) achieving consensus on decisions needed to protect biodiversity;
(v) considering climate change impacts in management decisions;
and (vi) inadequate implementation of States’ obligations to conduct environmental impact assessments.

Continue reading HSA’s Newest Brief – Lessons Learned from Regional and Sectoral Organizations for Conservation in ABNJ

27 March, 2019

Source: RFI – Las Voces Del Mundo
Por Silvia Celi

Las negociaciones sobre un tratado vinculante para conservar y proteger casi dos tercios del océano se reanudaron este lunes en la sede de las Naciones Unidas (ONU), en Nueva York. Los distintos países comenzaron a trabajar para lograr un primer borrador de texto en los próximos quince días.

Continue reading ONU: Hacia un Tratado Vinculante para Proteger la Alta Mar