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Marine Protected Areas on the High Seas: Some Legal and Policy Considerations

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image of The International Journal of Marine and Coastal Law

The 2003 meeting of the United Nations Open-Ended Informal Consultative Process on Oceans and the Law of the Sea made a call to explore a range of tools for the protection and management of vulnerable and threatened marine ecosystems and biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction. To achieve this aim, the establishment of marine protected areas (MPAs) on the high seas not only fully complies with customary international law, but is also the subject-matter of specific obligations arising under a number of treaties (starting from UNCLOS Art. 194, para. 5). Today the time-honoured concept of freedom of the sea is to be understood in the context of the present range of marine activities and in relation to all the potentially conflicting uses and interests, such as the protection of the marine environment and the sound exploitation of marine living resources. The 1995 Protocol Concerning Specially Protected Areas and Biological Diversity in the Mediterranean is an interesting precedent on the issue of MPAs on the high seas.


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