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So far, yet so close: ecological connectivity between ABNJ and territorial waters

United Nations member states are negotiating a new International Legally Binding Instrument (ILBI) on the conservation and sustainable management of marine biodiversity in Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (ABNJ). These waters do not exist in isolation: marine ecosystems are interconnected by ocean currents and the movement of migratory species. What happens in ABNJ can therefore cause impacts in territorial waters. Many Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS) depend heavily on marine resources, but the benefits from conservation and management measures in ABNJ will not be evenly distributed. By highlighting which regions of ABNJ are most connected to coastal LDCs and other developing coastal states via ocean currents, this briefing aims to help the parties ensure that area-based management regimes in ABNJ protect these countries’ interests and rights.

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Marine and coastal resources support the livelihoods of millions of poor people across the world. They also provide a range of critical ecosystem services to the rest of the economy. The connection between high seas and coastal waters where small-scale fishers are active is relatively unexplored but already, the need for an ocean governance system, which will protect both areas, is evident.

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