The Future of High Seas Conservation


Trade between countries has been the backbone of the global environment. Long before the United States, the European Union and Brexit, humans were using waterways and oceans as their main source of delivering goods and trade.

Seafood has been a major proponent of trade, too, due to its high protein levels and nutrient-rich content.

The high seas account for roughly 50% of the entire earth’s size, and it’s important to be able to restore the vitality and biodiversity to these areas. Human activity has caused a major strain on marine life, and overfishing and illegal fishing practices have amplified the impact of human activity in high seas.

Proper Conservation Starts Regionally

The future of high seas conservation requires a change that occurs on a regional basis. Regions will need to offer a systematic, ecosystem-based plan that will be able to protect areas of the high seas that are ecologically significant.

Seamounts, or sea mountains, are a prime example of an area of the sea where biodiversity is normally high.

Marine ConservationSeamounts offer the perfect environment for deep sea fish to thrive, and many of these mountains have an abundance of diversity that humans have studied only briefly. These areas, for example, offer a variety of the new species found for fish, coral and sponges, which are specific to these very seamounts.

Regions will need to focus on the habitat as a whole rather than on one species that may be endangered or harmed.

Species interactions will need to be taken into account as well as migratory practices so that a concrete plan can be devised to ensure conservation. The focal points on regions is suggested because each region will have its own conservation issues and goals, depending on the marine life that resides in the region.

Protection Goals on a Worldwide Basis

Protection needs to occur regionally, but worldwide agreements will help to ensure the future of the high seas. International treaties and agreements will need to be devised with the goal of reaching 30% of the ocean being conserved by 2030.

Why 30% conservation?

The figure comes from the Global Ocean Refuge System. The system would allow for the rejuvenation of the marine life in the high seas needed to counteract the damage caused by humans.

Progress has been made with a Spring 2016 meeting of the United Nation General Assembly. The assembly made great progress in an effort to boost conservation practices. The committee discussed:

  • Critical elements of a treaty
  • Protection for biodiversity in high seas
  • International means to ensure biodiversity

Humans have started to encroach on the high seas, and any international treaties that aim to help protect the high seas is working in the right capacity to help protect them.

The high seas are further an area that is not allowed to be subject to sovereignty. The issue was brought up in 1609, but it wasn’t accepted until the 19th century.  This, in effect, means that the high seas cannot be owned, and it is free to navigate, too. This puts an even larger stress on how and who can implement conservation of the high seas.


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