Weekly dose of TED – Kristina Gjerde: Making law on the high seas

The high seas are a black hole for ocean conservation. They lie beyond the jurisdiction of any single country and are largely open for unregulated exploitation. Even as we begin moving towards a pragmatic high seas conservation framework, we should keep in mind that many territorial waters are still left unprotected and open to illegal fishing and dumping.

I had a chance to sit down with Kristina Gjerde last year to talk about seabed management and the exploitation of hydrothermal vents in the high seas. Unlike the high seas, the international seabed is supposed to be held in trust as the common heritage of mankind, which means that the resources belong to all nations, not just those who get there first.Despite protection under the International Seabed Authority and the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, the only enforcement mechanism in place are compliance, and this mechanism has never been tested.

How do we protect the high seas and who has the right to exploit its resources?