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Can existing institutions protect biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction? Experiences from two on-going processes


  • Freestone, David
  • Johnson, David
  • Ardron, Jeff
  • Morrison, Kate Killerlain
  • Unger, Sebastian


United Nations discussions on the governance of marine areas beyond national jurisdiction have questioned, but not yet reached a decision, on whether existing institutional agreements and structures are sufficient to meet global commitments to protect marine biodiversity, or if additional mechanisms may be required. This paper considers two very different efforts to protect marine biodiversity in these areas: (1) in the North-East Atlantic through the efforts of OSPAR Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic; and (2) in the central Atlantic, through the efforts of the Sargasso Sea Alliance led by the Bermuda government. In each case, action has been strongly supported by non-governmental organisations and subsequent progress has hinged upon on-going dedicated efforts of “champion” governments to bring other States on board. This paper outlines the difficulties that they have faced, and consequently why they have been time-consuming, and are not yet completed. The paper then considers 10 common recommendations that can be drawn from the experiences of these two distinct initiatives, and their relevance to on-going UN deliberations.

Suggested Citation

  • Freestone, David & Johnson, David & Ardron, Jeff & Morrison, Kate Killerlain & Unger, Sebastian, 2014. "Can existing institutions protect biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction? Experiences from two on-going processes," Marine Policy, Elsevier, vol. 49(C), pages 167-175.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:marpol:v:49:y:2014:i:c:p:167-175
    DOI: 10.1016/j.marpol.2013.12.007

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. O'Leary, B.C. & Brown, R.L. & Johnson, D.E. & von Nordheim, H. & Ardron, J. & Packeiser, T. & Roberts, C.M., 2012. "The first network of marine protected areas (MPAs) in the high seas: The process, the challenges and where next," Marine Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(3), pages 598-605.
    2. Ardron, Jeff & Gjerde, Kristina & Pullen, Sian & Tilot, Virginie, 2008. "Marine spatial planning in the high seas," Marine Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(5), pages 832-839, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Ardron, Jeff A. & Rayfuse, Rosemary & Gjerde, Kristina & Warner, Robin, 2014. "The sustainable use and conservation of biodiversity in ABNJ: What can be achieved using existing international agreements?," Marine Policy, Elsevier, vol. 49(C), pages 98-108.
    2. Rochette, Julien & Billé, Raphaël & Molenaar, Erik J. & Drankier, Petra & Chabason, Lucien, 2015. "Regional oceans governance mechanisms: A review," Marine Policy, Elsevier, vol. 60(C), pages 9-19.
    3. Dona Barirani, 2022. "A UN Treaty for Marine Biodiversity: Establishing Environmental Policy Integration in Global Governance," Global Policy, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 13(3), pages 390-400, June.
    4. Cvitanovic, C. & Hobday, A.J. & van Kerkhoff, L. & Marshall, N.A., 2015. "Overcoming barriers to knowledge exchange for adaptive resource management; the perspectives of Australian marine scientists," Marine Policy, Elsevier, vol. 52(C), pages 38-44.
    5. Wright, Glen & Ardron, Jeff & Gjerde, Kristina & Currie, Duncan & Rochette, Julien, 2015. "Advancing marine biodiversity protection through regional fisheries management: A review of bottom fisheries closures in areas beyond national jurisdiction," Marine Policy, Elsevier, vol. 61(C), pages 134-148.

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