The Last Frontier: What Should Regulations on the High Seas Look Like?
This post is part of the Natural Security Forum blog, which provides quick analysis from the Natural Security Forum team and outside contributors. For more information, visit the Natural Security Forum's micro-site at www.naturalsecurityforum.org.
Written by the Natural Security Forum team
Last week, conservationists and private companies gathered in Bali, Indonesia, for the fourth World Oceans Summit. The three-day conference was packed with agenda items — from bolstering blue growth and ridding the oceans of plastic to leveraging technology to enforce marine protected areas. Missing from the docket, however, was discussion of these developments on the high seas. The vast tracks of ocean outside national jurisdictions and largely void of binding regulations pose a governance nightmare when it comes to maritime sustainability, protection, and enforcement.
Sixty-four percent of the world’s oceans lie outside of exclusive economic zones. Except for some MPAs scattered across the high seas, the expansive territory has only fragmented regulatory frameworks. The lack of regulation and enforcement make the high seas the new wild west — a frontier susceptible to illegal and unsustainable fishing, as well as a safe harbor from authorities for traffickers and other criminals .
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