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Protecting Ocean Life on the High Seas
The high seas make up about two-thirds of the world’s ocean, covering the vast expanses beyond the jurisdiction of any country.

Research has shown that the high seas hold some of the largest reservoirs of biodiversity on Earth, supporting abundant fisheries, providing migratory routes for whales and sharks and harboring remarkable ecosystems such as deep-water corals and other majestic marine life.

In June 2023, with extensive support from Pew, the United Nations adopted a new treaty establishing a legal framework to create a network of high seas marine protected areas—the equivalent of international parks at sea—and put in place standards, guidelines and a consistent process for assessing the environmental impacts of new high seas activities.

To help ensure that the ocean continues to provide ecosystem services and maintain resilience against threats such as climate change and overfishing, Pew is working in partnership with governments, scientists, regional and other bodies, and other key stakeholder groups to enable the rapid and effective implementation of the treaty once it enters into force. Pew’s focus in this collaborative effort is on establishing a path towards the creation of the first generation of high seas marine protected areas by 2030.

Report

Путь к созданию первого поколения охраняемых районов в открытом море

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Report

За линией горизонта, на расстоянии более 200 морских миль от берега, простираются океанские территории, называемые открытым морем. Эти воды находятся вне национальной юрисдикции какой-либо страны и составляют порядка двух третей площади мирового океана, покрывая почти половину земной поверхности.

Data Visualization

Protect High Seas

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Data Visualization

Did you know that only 1% of the high seas have legal protections? Learn more about safeguarding this vital international ecosystem with the marine protected areas tool from Pew.

Article

What the New High Seas Treaty Means for Conservation

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Article

After over a decade of informal discussions and six years of formal treaty negotiations, the United Nations agreed to the text for a new international treaty on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction, commonly called the high seas.

Lancet fish
Mesopelagic fishes
Issue Brief

High Seas Treaty Must Reflect Critical Role of Fish in Ecosystems

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Issue Brief

Members of the United Nations are negotiating a treaty that would enable the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJ), including the international waters known as the high seas.

Our Work

Video

Protect the High Seas

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Video

The high seas—waters beyond any single country’s jurisdiction—cover more than half our planet’s surface. They are among the most biodiverse locations on Earth, harboring remarkable ecosystems and providing countless benefits for marine life and humanity alike. The problem? Right now, only 1% is protected.