New Commission to Address Issues of the High Seas

Written by on February 14, 2013 in Policy & Ocean Law

Politicians from several different countries are forming a new initiative to help the whole world address the major issues facing the high seas.

The Global Ocean Commission, which launched on Tuesday (Feb 12), is co-chaired by former UK foreign secretary David Milliband, former Costa Rican president Jose Maria Figueres and Trevor Manuel, a minister in the South African cabinet and head of the National Planning Commission. Along with many other politicians from other fishing nations including Chile, Australia, Indonesia and more, the group will begin working this week and will be ready with official advice in 2014.

The Commission says that the high seas face numerous threats, including overfishing, habitat destruction and ocean acidification. It also suffers from a “lack of effective management” and “deficiencies in high seas governance”.

According to data from the United Nations and the World Bank, overfishing costs around $50 billion worldwide every year. And, with nearly three-quarters of the ocean’s fish stocks already overfished, something needs to be done.

Miliband told Reuters that, despite the 1982 U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), much of the ocean is “a neglected area of global governance.”

“The UN Law of the Sea was a great achievement, but we urgently need a governance framework that delivers its aims and objectives for today’s global ocean,” Miliband said in a statement.

“The Global Ocean Commission will be a catalyst for the developments we need,” he continued. “2014 is a critical year of decision for the ocean, when changes should be made that will set the ocean on the path to sustainable health and productivity.”

“The global ocean is essential to the health and well-being of each and every one of us,” said Figueres. “It provides about half of the oxygen we breathe and absorbs about a quarter of our carbon dioxide emissions; but we are failing to manage it in ways that reflect its true value.”

The Global Ocean Commission will address four major issues facing the high seas.

The Global Ocean Commission will address four major issues facing the high seas. Photo credit: kathryntaylor via photopin cc.

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By Emily Tripp
Copyright © 2013 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.

About the Author

About the Author: Emily Tripp is the Publisher and Editor of She holds marine science and biology degrees from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and a Master of Advanced Studies degree in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. When she's not writing about marine science, she's probably running around outside or playing with her dog. .


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