Headline: High seas fisheries: what role for a new international instrument?

Marine areas beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJ) represent nearly half of the earth’s surface andhost a significant proportion of its biodiversity. Theremoteness of ABNJ and a lack of scientific knowledgepreviously placed them beyond the reach ofhuman activities, but technological advancements,scientific developments, and growing demand forbiological and mineral resources are driving newexploration and exploitation.The search for useful genetic resources is increasing(Broggiato et al., 2014),1 while other activitiesare having a range of impacts, including:overexploitation of living marine resources (Merrieet al., 2014); destruction of habitats (Puscedduet al., 2014); the impacts of climate change andocean acidification (Gattuso et al., 2015; Riebeselland Gattuso, 2014; Weatherdon et al., 2015) pollutionof the marine environment (Ramirez-Llodraet al., 2011) and impacts linked to deep-sea mining(Halfar and Fujita, 2007) and geo-engineering(Boyd, 2013; Lukacs, 2012)The international community has been discussingoptions to conserve and sustainably usemarine biodiversity in ABNJ since 2006. In 2015,States took the historic decision to develop a newinternational legally binding instrument (ILBI) onthe conservation and sustainable use of marine biologicaldiversity of ABNJ, under the framework ofthe United Nations Convention on the Law of theSea (UNCLOS). Specifically, it was recommendedthat:negotiations shall address the topics identifiedin the package agreed in 2011, namely the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversityin areas beyond national jurisdiction,in particular, together and as a whole, marinegenetic resources, including questions on thesharing of benefits, measures such as area-basedmanagement tools, including marine protectedareas, environmental impact assessments andcapacity building and the transfer of marinetechnology.2Both in the course of the deliberations that led tothis decision and at the first meeting of the PreparatoryCommittee (PrepCom) in March-April 2016,numerous States and stakeholders highlightedthat fishing is currently the activity with the largestimpact on biodiversity in ABNJ. Despite thiswidespread recognition, a number of delegationshave expressed concern that it is not currentlyclear whether fisheries should be integrated into anew ILBI and how this could be achieved.This paper demonstrates that there is not onlyroom for the inclusion of fisheries within a newILBI, but that there are many options for the ILBIto complement and enhance existing fisheriesmanagement and contribute to advancing an integratedapproach to ocean governance. The followingsection provides an introduction to fisheries inABNJ, while Section 3 summarises the current regulatoryframework. Section 4 discusses the placeof fisheries within the ongoing process toward anew ILBI, and Section 5 provides a range of potentialoptions for the inclusion of fisheries in a newinstrument.

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Wright, G., Rochette, J., Blom, L., Currie, D., Durussel, C., Gjerde, K., Unger, S. (2016): High seas fisheries: what role for a new international instrument? - IDDRI Studies, 03/2016.

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