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Reflections on High Seas Marine Protected Areas: A Comparative Analysis of the Mediterranean and the North-East Atlantic Models

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In 2010, the Contracting-Parties to the Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic (OSPAR Convention) created six marine protected areas (MPAs) on the high seas beyond 200 nautical miles with a view to protecting marine biological diversity. This is a significant step toward conservation of biological diversity on the high seas. The creation of high seas MPAs seems to provide a useful insight into the protection of community interests in marine spaces beyond the limits of national jurisdiction. At the same time, however, the creation of MPAs on the high seas raises some legal issues with regard to, inter alia, its legal ground, opposability to non-Contracting Parties, legitimacy, and practical implementation. Thus, this contribution seeks to examine legal issues regarding two types of MPAs on the high seas, namely: MPAs on the high seas which fall within potential exclusive economic zone of coastal States (the Mediterranean model) and MPAs on the high seas beyond 200 nautical miles (the North-East Atlantic model), respectively.

Affiliations: 1: Associate Professor of Public International Law, Faculty of Law, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark, URL:


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