International ocean governance includes the processes, agreements, rules, institutions, etc. developed to organise the way in which humans use the ocean and its resources. Not including the territorial waters of countries, ocean governance relates to the High Seas and international seabed “Area” which support vital biological resources. However, because they are beyond the remit of any single government to protect, they are subject to overexploitation, pollution and habitat degradation, which together are undermining vital Earth support systems. Known also as Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (ABNJ), these areas are notoriously difficult to manage with few laws to promote their protection. The laws that are in place are often weak and poorly enforced.
These remote areas of the ocean are, however, rich in biodiversity and resources and play a critical role in ecosystem services such as oxygen production and carbon storage. Since ABNJ make up nearly two thirds of the global ocean (that’s 45% of the Earth’s surface), this is of particular significance to the health of the planet.
The global High Seas and Area (in dark blue)
IUCN and its partners are currently implementing a project on Conservation and sustainable exploitation of seamount ecosystems of the South West Indian Ocean (SWIO) covering both science and governance angles.
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