The largest, least-protected places on our blue planet are found in the high seas – the open ocean and deep seabed areas that lie beyond national jurisdictions. They cover about 45% of the Earth’s surface, and 64% of the oceans. Belonging to no single nation, they have been, for too long, neglected by all.
The high seas are home to great whales, sea turtles, seabirds, tunas, and sharks that traverse entire ocean basins in search of food. They house deep-dwelling fishes and invertebrate animals that live long, slow-motion lives in eternal darkness. High seas biodiversity is threatened by fishing, climate change and other human-caused impacts. These losses are also our losses, as they threaten the ability of the oceans to sustain marine life and support human societies.
The global community, through the United Nations, has decided that key high seas ecosystems should be protected. Both the Convention on Biological Diversity and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization have developed criteria to identify ecologically important and vulnerable areas in the high seas. Never before has there been such an opportunity, and Marine Conservation Institute is taking a leadership role. Ensuring the high seas have a voice, we are working with the global scientific community to provide the information necessary to international authorities for making meaningful lasting decisions.