What is the international marine biodiversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction?

December 18, 2019

We’re facing a global emergency in our oceans. Climate change is wreaking havoc on our seas and our other human activities in, and near them, aren’t helping either. Scientists warning that we face a mass extinction of marine life unless 30% of global ocean space is placed within marine protected areas by 2030. They’re trying to convince the international community to give priority to addressing ocean issues in an integrated, interdisciplinary and intersectoral way. Areas beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJ) cover nearly two-thirds of the planet, and these areas and their biodiversity have arguably been considered “out of sight, out of mind”. ⁠

The Convention on the Law of the Seas (UNCLOS) provides the key overarching framework for ocean governance. However, the current international law framework for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity in ABNJ is fragmented and has several regulatory and governance gaps and weaknesses. ⁠

In recognition that the existing instruments are insufficient to fully address these weaknesses, States have committed to adopting a new instrument under UNCLOS for strong, legally binding protections for the high seas. This seeks to ensure the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of ABNJ and establish a globally-enforceable mandate necessary to empower States in addressing growing issues such as pollution, biodiversity loss and climate change.