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Global Ocean Commission Seeks to Curb Environmental Damage to the High Seas

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Fishing_BoatThe Global Ocean Commission, an independent body comprised of officials from many nations, is dedicating itself to making environmental protection of the high seas a top priority in global policy.

The commission is led by David Milibrand, former British foreign secretary, Jose Maria Figueres, former Costa Rican president, and Trevor Manuel, South Africa’s planning minister. To date, there is no American on the commission.

In 1994, the United Nations Law of the Sea was put in place and was hailed as a great achievement. However, Mr. Milibrand believes new a governance framework is still needed that addresses today’s global ocean needs.

The issue of unregulated use of resources has paved the path for plundering to become an increasing problem plaguing the high seas. Fishing fleets journey farther than before to find their next catch and private companies devise ways of exploiting off shore wealth. This extends to minerals that are located beneath or on the seabed.

Unseen habitats are being lost quickly and there is very little awareness, much less policy in place, to curb the loss. One marine biologist likened this lost to the giant redwoods on North America, the baobabs of Madagascar, and the Amazon rainforest.

The commission will analyze the key issues plaguing the international waters for the next year. This study includes all waters greater than 200 nautical miles offshore.

Overfishing, permanent habitat damage, ocean acidification, and climate change are all affecting the global ocean at an ever increasing pace, and the commission believes policy must be put in place as soon as possible to protect the ocean and curb the rate of damage.

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