Global Voices Seek to Protect and Conserve Abundant Life in International Waters

Perspectives on why world leaders need to secure a strong high seas treaty in 2022

Global Voices Seek to Protect Life in International Waters
Flags fly outside the General Secretariat Building at the United Nations Headquarters.
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Making up roughly two-thirds of the ocean and covering nearly half of the planet’s surface, the high seas support abundant fisheries, serve as migratory routes for whales and sharks, and harbor remarkable ecosystems such as deep-water corals and other majestic marine life.

Because the ocean is an interconnected system, harmful activities on the high seas can also have a negative impact on domestic conservation efforts and livelihoods. According to the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, effective and equitable conservation of at least 30% of the global ocean can help to safeguard the resilience of biodiversity and ecosystem services at a global scale.

The high seas, which are beyond the borders of any nation, represent about two-thirds of the world’s ocean, but only about 1% of these waters are protected. International waters belong to everyone, yet there currently is no comprehensive legal mechanism in place to protect the high seas and the marine life that makes its home there.

Governments must take bold and urgent action toward the successful conclusion this year of negotiations at the United Nations on a high seas treaty. The articles below share the perspectives of a wide range of global voices—from youth leaders to influential government decision-makers—and make the case for an ambitious agreement that will allow for the establishment of marine protected areas on the high seas.

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Turn the Tide: Protect the High Seas


white branched octocoral
white branched octocoral

Creating the First Generation of High Seas Protected Areas

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Although there is much still to discover, scientists have sufficient data and research to begin mapping and modeling hot spots of biodiversity on the high seas. This report identifies some of the special places that could benefit from protections established under a new high seas treaty.