In a new study just published online in the journal Conservation Letters, an international group of researchers found that much of the world’s oceans lack mechanisms to properly manage for biodiversity conservation or for sustainable use. “Almost half of Earth’s surface lies beyond the jurisdiction of nations,” says Dr Natalie Ban, lead author of the new scientific paper, “but management in these high seas is piecemeal.”
The problem is that institutions managing the high seas do not have a mandate to do integrated planning, and do not have the ability to effectively coordinate with other management bodies. “This presents a real problem for conservation of biodiversity”, explains co-author Kristina Gjerde, Senior High Seas Advisor for IUCN. “Without coordinated management, important and vulnerable species will be affected by multiple threats, and are likely to continue to decline.”
At last year’s UN Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio, world leaders committed to conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity in the high seas, including through a . The authors of the study examined options for achieving this commitment, and identified key elements for future high seas management.
“We propose that a two-pronged approach is most promising,” says Dr Ban. “On the one hand, we need an improved global legal regime that incorporates systematic planning. On the other hand, we can expand upon existing and new regional agreements and mandates”, she continues. “Such a combined approach is most likely to achieve the required ecosystem-based, integrated and science-based management that world leaders at Rio acknowledged should underpin ocean management.”
Their paper Systematic conservation planning: a better recipe for managing the high seas for biodiversity conservation and sustainable use by Natalie C. Ban, Nicholas J. Bax, Kristina M. Gjerde, Rodolphe Devillers, Daniel C. Dunn, Piers K. Dunstan, Alistair J. Hobday, Sara M. Maxwell, David M. Kaplan, Robert L. Pressey, Jeff A. Ardron, Edward T Game, and Patrick N. Halpin appears online in the journal Conservation Letters.
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