New York, 21st August 2019: OceanCare calls on governments to strictly regulate ocean noise within the legally binding Instrument governing the High Seas currently under negotiation.
To some, the Law of the Sea may seem dry, technical and even boring. Yet, the penultimate negotiations of the Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) illustrate quite the opposite; UN member states are negotiating something that is truly ground-breaking. Over the past decade, the international community has engaged in negotiating an agreement which shall conserve and regulate the sustainable use of biodiversity in the High Seas.
OceanCare, together with many other organisations, most of them coordinated by the High Seas Alliance (http://highseasalliance.org/), is passionately urging governments to use this once-in-a-generation opportunity to make sure such an agreement puts protection and conservation efforts first.
Negotiations continue and it cannot be said for sure when and if a final agreement will be agreed, but it is certainly a crucial and critical time in the process.
The Case of Anthropogenic Underwater Noise
OceanCare calls on governments to address noise as a transboundary pollutant appropriately.
Ocean noise is the epitome of transboundary pollution. Its implications don’t stop at national jurisdictions. It is a form of pollution which is scientifically proven to severely impact the health and functions of marine life. Apart from the adverse impacts on marine biodiversity, it is truly a global problem including regional manifestations and socio-economic consequence.
Side Event by the GFCM and OceanCare
On Wednesday, 21st August, OceanCare co-hosted a side event together with the General Fisheries Commission of the Mediterranean Sea (GFCM) at the third session of the intergovernmental conference on marine biodiversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction (IGC3 BBNJ).
While unfortunately, Lora Reeve, OceanCare expert on international law, was unable to attend the side event due to personal reasons. We are extremly grateful that Kristina Gjerde, a pioneer and expert on the Law of the Sea and High Seas governance stepped in and presented on how Transboundary Pollution could be managed through the new BBNJ Instrument under UNCLOS. The provision on ocean noise would also serve to address other types of transboundary pollution including marine debris and plastic pollution.
Then, Nicola Ferri, Legal Officer at the FAO General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (FAO/GFCM), shared a regional perspective on how GFCM is addressing the socio-economic impacts of ocean noise on Mediterranean fisheries. Mr. Ferri provided an example how stakeholders from science, fishing, shipping, environment, as well as civil society were brought together in a truly participatory approach which is bridging science and policy making. This joint OceanCare and GFCM workshop example is a tangible action that has the potential to be replicated elsewhere.
The final presentation was given by Nicolas Entrup, Senior Ocean Policy Expert at OceanCare, who addressed best practice in how to reduce noise in the oceans and showed that collaboration and coordination with specialised agencies is crucial, as individual national, regional and sectoral approaches are not sufficient to effectively manage, in a fully-encompassing manner, the cumulative impacts from transboundary pollution, including anthropogenic underwater noise pollution.
Fabienne McLellan, Director International Relations, OceanCare, moderated the event. In her closing remarks she concluded that it is implicit that the consequences of transboundary pollutants need to be taken care within the new Treaty currently negotiated by States.