08 Mar 2023

The IMarEST welcomes UN High Seas Treaty

The Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology (IMarEST) welcomes the historic UN High Seas Treaty that addresses the previously fragmented legal frameworks that have left international waters vulnerable to growing threats. The negotiated text attempts to balance global shared interests with the freedoms of the High Seas as established under UNCLOS.

Prof. David Johnson PhD, FIMarEST and Dr. Vikki Gunn PhD FIMarEST, who have been representing the IMarEST in New York at the negotiations, said: “This has been a lengthy but ultimately successful consensus-building exercise to create a legal framework that provides the means to conserve and sustainably use two-thirds of the ocean along with its unique species and ecosystems. We thank the conference President Rena Lee and her Facilitators, as well as States’ representatives, for their steadfast efforts to secure the detailed basis of this international legally binding instrument.” 

Together with our members, the IMarEST will continue to work towards a sustainable future for our oceans, and we urge all countries to implement the UN High Seas Treaty and other global agreements such as the Paris Agreement to address the impacts of climate change on our oceans. Steve Hall CMarSci, FIMarEST, who was involved in the early development of the treaty as vice-chair of UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission until 2017, added: “This is a massive step forward. The challenge we all face now is getting it ratified and delivered.”

The agreement is a significant move towards the protection of the biodiversity of international waters as Niru Neil Dorrian, CMarSci, CSci, FIMarEST and Co-Chair of the IMarEST Marine Mammals Special Interest Group, explains: “The UN High Seas Treaty represents an important step towards the conservation and sustainable management of marine biodiversity, including marine mammals. By establishing a legal framework for the protection of the high seas, the treaty has the potential to help ensure the long-term health and well-being of these important species and the ecosystems they inhabit.”

Professor Ralph Rayner, FIMarEST and Co-Chair of the IMarEST Operational Oceanography Special Interest Group, added: “Having participated in the UK delegation working on the adoption of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea back at the start of my career, it is wonderful to see a treaty to protect the high seas finally being agreed. Let’s hope this really is a turning point in ensuring that the vital natural capital and ecosystem services provided by the ocean are maintained.”

The IMarEST is committed to promoting maritime knowledge and professional development worldwide. Dr Lorenzo Casarosa, the IMarEST’s Policy and Engagement Manager, concludes: “This latest milestone is a testament to the significance of the Institute as an international NGO deeply engaged with the UN system and its specialised agencies, particularly with the International Maritime Organisation. This demonstrates the dedication, effective teamwork and coordination among our expert and passionate members; and also our efforts to lead by example to attract and engage newer generations in policy development.”

IMarEST members can support our contribution to international engagements through branch and SIG activities. To find out more, email [email protected]. Not yet a member of the IMarEST? Join here.