Protect the high seas

By Matthieu Ricard on June 30, 2014

Support the petition addressed by the Global Ocean Commission to United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon:

Help secure a living ocean, food and prosperity - propose a new agreement for high seas protection in September 2014

Providing us with food, fresh water, energy, medicine, the oxygen in every second breath we take, and even our holidays, a healthy ocean is essential for all life on Earth.

But for too long we've taken out too many fish, polluted indiscriminately, and damaged vulnerable habitats on the seabed. We are pushing our ocean system to the point of collapse, and risking our own health and prosperity.

Marine and coastal resources are worth US$3 trillion a year — around 5% of the world's GDP — and worldwide, 350 million jobs are linked to the ocean while 97% of fishers live in developing countries.

But without the enforcement of strong laws to protect a living ocean, a minority will continue to abuse the freedom of the high seas, plunder the riches that lie beneath the waves, take more than a fair share, and benefit at the expense of the rest of us, especially the poorest.

The good news is that we have a fantastic chance to turn things around.

In September this year, the United Nations (UN) will begin discussing the future of the high seas and how they should be governed. This won't happen again any time soon so we need to make the most of the opportunity now.

The high seas — made up of international waters and covering 45% of the Earth — belong to us all, yet resemble a failed state beyond the jurisdiction of any government. No one is taking overall responsibility, with the alarming result that the health of the entire ocean is in severe decline.

It is time to extend the rule of law to the deep blue half of our planet. We need a new international agreement (under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea) to secure ocean health and the sustainable and equitable use and conservation of high seas resources.

This will help ensure we have enough food for everyone, equitable access to new medicines from deep sea organisms to fight cancer and other serious diseases, resilience in the face of the worst impacts of climate change, and protection of valuable marine habitats from destructive industries.

The UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon is committed to ocean health and protection but he needs our support so that he is empowered in September to call on world leaders to develop this new agreement.

Please join the mission for a healthy, living ocean and ask Ban Ki-moon to join our call for high seas protection and ocean health.

Sign the petition