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High seas governance that benefits all: understanding area-based management tools

Daniela Diz

IIED Briefing, 4 pages

Parties to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) are negotiating a legally binding instrument to conserve biodiversity in waters beyond national jurisdictions. The instrument will jointly promote conservation and sustainable use, and is expected to draw on area-based management tools (ABMTs), including those for marine protected areas (MPAs). Benefits generated by ABMTs are particularly important for vulnerable developing countries. Siting management areas to protect ecosystem services and provide ecological representativity and connectivity will ensure these areas support livelihooods across scales, as well as protect biodiversity. This briefing establishes the rationale for an ‘ecosystem approach’ to designing ABMTs; argues that guidance, criteria and standards developed in international conventions on biodiversity should be clearly incorporated into the new instrument; and calls for ABMT design to recognise, and promptly meet, coastal developing states’ special needs.

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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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