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A New Regime for the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Marine Biodiversity and Genetic Resources Beyond the Limits of National Jurisdiction

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Life on earth, the climate, the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat are to a large degree dependent on the health of the oceans and its biodiversity, which supports the global ecosystem. Ocean ecosystems provide essential services, food security and livelihoods to human beings all over the world. Yet, the oceans are currently or potentially threatened by human activities and their consequences, including: overfishing, destructive fishing practices, climate change, pollution from many sources, ocean acidification, habitat destruction, the spread of alien species, mineral exploration and exploitation, ocean dumping, underwater noise, marine debris, carbon sequestration, pipelines and cables, tourism, bioprospecting and marine scientific research. If we are to continue to benefit from the resources and services provided by the oceans, we must take urgent action to counter these threats. Some problems are already being addressed in various international instruments, most of which apply beyond national jurisdiction. However, because of the seriousness of the threats to marine ecosystems, States are considering whether existing measures are sufficient. Furthermore, with the recognition of the need to take an integrated, ecosystem approach to ocean management, some States are calling for an implementing agreement to the UN Law of the Sea Convention (LOSC) to address both the conservation and the sustainable use of marine biological resources beyond national jurisdiction. This paper examines the legal background and urges States to elaborate an implementing agreement to the LOSC to create a new regime for marine biodiversity and genetic resources beyond national jurisdiction.

Affiliations: 1: Visiting Professor, Maritime Institute, University of Greenwich, UK


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