STRONG High Seas Online Workshop – High Seas Marine Protected Areas: Vast, Remote and Costly?

On 15 and 16 February 2022, IDDRI, in the context of the STRONG High Seas project and in cooperation with the International Monitoring, Control and Surveillance (IMCS) Network and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), organised an online informal workshop under the Chatham House rule entitled “High Seas Marine Protected Areas: Vast Remote and Costly?”.

The negotiations for an international legally binding instrument on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJ) – more commonly referred to as the “high seas” or BBNJ negotiations – was initiated by the United Nations General Assembly in December 2017. Three negotiating sessions, held at the UN headquarters in New York, took place between September 2018 and August 2019 and the fourth, originally scheduled for March 2020 but postponed because of the pandemic, took place in March 2022.

The future instrument will create a global process by which marine protected areas (MPAs) in ABNJ can be established and managed, among other things. One of the key lessons learnt from MPAs created under States’ national jurisdiction is the critical need for effective monitoring, control and surveillance (MCS) of maritime activities, which is still missing in most marine regions.

It is therefore crucial to anticipate the implementation challenges of MPAs in ABNJ and evaluate global MCS capacities to avoid the creation of “paper parks” and ensure the compliance with agreed upon conservation and management measures.

This workshop gathered more than 50 participants involved in BBNJ, MPA and MCS processes, including State representatives, MPA practitioners, scientists and representatives of international organisations and civil society. It offered participants the opportunity to explore the diversity of MCS tools and assess the feasibility of their implementation in ABNJ to ensure the effective management of future MPAs. Participants discussed lessons learned from the management of existing large-scale MPAs and exchanged on opportunities to make the draft BBNJ treaty fit for MCS purposes.

The workshop summary can be found here.

The workshop agenda can be found here.

The workshop presentations can be found here.