Noting that “lack of adequate governance” on the
high seas is the key issue, the commission has called for the negotiation of a
new Agreement under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) to
prioritise ocean health and resilience, restore ocean productivity, guard
against irresponsible, inefficient and wasteful exploitation, and allow for the
creation of high seas marine protected areas (MPAs). Such an agreement would
extend governance to the 64% of the global ocean that lies outside national
jurisdiction, the protection of which is seen as essential for overall ocean
While bring to the fore as a fact that “the
current lack of high seas governance, together with invisibility in political
debate, is resulting in mismanagement of resources, lost revenue and global
inequity,” the Commission reported that “the valuable high seas services such as
carbon sequestration, worth between US$74 and US$222 billion annually, are in
“Without proper governance, a minority will
continue to abuse the freedom of the high seas, plunder the riches that lie
beneath the waves, take more than a fair share, and benefit at the expense of
the rest of us, especially the poorest,” said Trevor Manuel, Co-chair of the
Commission and former Minister in the Presidency of South Africa.
“It requires political will and bold leadership
but the costs of inaction are clear,” Trevor added.
Report of the commission sought immediate capping
and elimination of government subsidies for high seas fishing, carried out by
just ten nations. “About 60% of such subsidies directly encourage unsustainable
practices, and without them, high seas fisheries would not be financially
viable,” it said.
“The high seas are like a failed state. Poor
governance and the absence of policing and management mean valuable resources
are unprotected or being squandered,” said David Miliband, Co-chair of the
Commission and former Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom, adding that “The
high seas belong to us all. We know what needs to be done but we can’t do it
alone. A joint mission must be our priority.”
The Commission’s proposals also call for mandatory
tracking of all vessels fishing in the high seas, a ban on the transshipment of
fish at sea, measures to end plastics pollution, and binding standards for the
regulation and control of offshore oil and gas exploration and exploitation.
Failure to take collective responsibility for
ocean health within five years should trigger consideration by the international
community of designating the high seas as a regeneration zone, said the
Commission adding that this would mean the prevention of industrial fishing in
high seas areas with the objective of fish stock recovery where Regional
Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMOs) are ineffective.
The proposals for action have so far received a
strong positive response from significant players with ocean interests in the
public, private and charitable sectors, including Prince Albert II of Monaco,
METRO GROUP (one of the largest and most important international retailing
companies), Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO, Environmental
Justice Foundation, Africa Progress Panel, Ocean Friendly Design Forum,
Gulbenkian Foundation, Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics, and the International
Chamber of Shipping, among others, the Commission claimed.
Appreciating the role of the Global Ocean
Commission for protection of seas, Prince Albert II of Monaco said, “Preserving
the environment, especially the marine environment, is no longer a matter of
concern restricted to a few activists. It is now one of the key issues of the
21st Century, not only from an economic point of view, but also with regard to
health and strategic aspects. As such, it deserves all our attention, all our
energy and all our efforts.”
Supporting Global Ocean Commission’s call to halt
illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing and the measures proposed to
improve fisheries management, Jürgen Matern, Vice-President, Head of Corporate
Sustainability and Regulatory Affairs METRO AG, said that “IUU fishing
undermines fish stock recovery and threatens food security and our own
prosperity. We must work together to restore ocean health.”
"In order to truly succeed, ocean regulations
ideally need to be global, to reflect the borderless nature of the ocean itself.
In addition, enforcement is key. No matter how stringent regulations are, if
they cannot or are not enforced they will not have the desired impact," said
Christopher J. Connor, President and CEO, Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics.
Praising the initiative of Global Ocean
Commission, which convenes a powerful coalition focused on the critical question
of the future of the world’s oceans, Chris McLaughlin, Senior Vice President,
Inmarsat, said, “The ICT revolution at sea is a story largely synonymous with
our own – we are well placed to offer expertise to ensure that the potential
sustainability benefits brought about by this are fully realised to the benefit
of citizens as well as the entire maritime cluster."