Wave seeking “High Seas Governance” is rising.

In Jun. 2012, the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development called Rio+20 took place in Rio de Janeiro.  Over 40,000 participants were joined from governments, business enterprises, and non-governmental organizations from 188 countries across the world and adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) regarding to environmental conservation, poverty eradication, etc.  Regarding to the Oceanic sector, High Seas Alliance (HSA) took this meeting as an opportunity to promote their activities while focusing onto high seas management.  Its goal is to have a legally binding international agreement to manage high seas.

HSA’s members include most of the world’s leading environmental conservation groups such as Greenpeace, The Pew Environment Group, and WWF, and the members seem to be increasing even now.  In addition, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the largest global conservation network which includes more than 200 governments, is also a member of the HSA.  As a result, it becomes a substantially powerful pressure group.

HSA claims that it facilitates international cooperation in order to establish high seas protected areas and to strengthen high seas governance Then, why do they make campaign for high seas, especially?  The answer is indicated in their claim.  According to HSA, “High sea areas make up nearly 50% of the surface of the Earth and include some of the most environmentally important, critically threatened and least protected ecosystems on our planet.” 
As for the current management of high seas, “regional and sectoral management mechanisms have failed.  The existing framework of governance is not fit for the purpose,” it mentioned.  In addition, it claims that making an international High Seas Biodiversity Agreement is the only way to address the issue.  It would be difficult to oppose against its claim when seeing the current situation of Western Central Pacific Fisheries Commission which “is now facing difficulty to address the overfishing capacity in the region..
However, HSA’s “high seas protected areas” includes an idea to ban fishing activities in the areas completely.  For tuna fishery which pursues highly migratory species swimming high seas freely, it might mean the denial of fishing activities. 

Global environment conservation” and “maintaining biological diversity” are important for the future, but we should not forget another global issue for the future how we can secure food, given the world population is foreseen to increase from 7 billion to 9 billion by 2050. Setting protected areas which would unreasonably block sustainable use of food resources can not be simply justified under such situation. As a consequence, the only solution is to find a way to solve both issues.

HSA urges an international society and government to begin negotiation immediately to establish a new binding agreement.  Hereafter, their movement for “high seas management” may become a big wave and surge to high seas fishing countries and industries.  It is difficult for them to escape from surging waves which has an agenda of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in its context.  They need to face it seriously and pull through it.  To do so, it is at least essential for Regional Fishing Management Organizations to improve and to exert its management capacity.  In short, RFMOs need to be turned into truly responsible and capable organizations.  It is obviously important for them to implement effective stock management measures. Moreover, from now on, it will be necessary for them to dedicate their energy to measures for oceanic environmental conservation as well as for biological diversity.

(This is a translation from the article published by Minato Fisheries Daily of Japan.)

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