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High Seas Store 500 Million Tonnes of Atmospheric Carbon Every Year

  • It might make economic, social and ecological sense to close the high seas to fishing as this could result in higher net economic benefits and yield a conservation benefit by contributing to a more sustainable and resilient ocean.
  • High seas ecosystems are degraded by past and current usage and threatened by future impacts, as industrial uses of the high seas expand. The governance is wholly inadequate.
  • Better environmental management of the high seas has been hampered by a chronic under-valuation of the economic benefits that will arise from healthier high seas ecosystems.

Click here to read/download the Full Study.


Source: Global Ocean Commission.



Although previous studies have looked at coastal areas, the unique role of the high seas (the area beyond national jurisdiction) has never been assessed in its own right or valued monetarily.

The global ocean is vital for life on Earth. It provides half of the oxygen we breathe, food for billions of people, and regulates the climate. It covers nearly three-quarters of the surface area of our planet and can extend thousands of metres below. It is the world’s single largest ecosystem and plays a central role in supporting all life on Earth. The high seas, those waters that are beyond 200 nautical miles from a coastline make up 64% of the total surface area of the ocean.

The Study is by Professor Alex Rogers of Somerville College, Oxford, UK and Professor Rashid Sumaila of the University of British Columbia, Canada.

Focusing on the large pelagic species for which there is good data, the study found that the 10 leading high seas fishing nations together land 63% of the high seas catch and capture 70% of the landed values. In descending order, these are:

  • Japan
  • South Korea
  • Taiwan
  • Spain
  • USA
  • Chile
  • China
  • Indonesia
  • Philippines
  • France

About Global Ocean Commission

The Global Ocean Commission is an independent international commission addressing the principal threats facing the global ocean, and originated as an initiative of The Pew Charitable Trusts, in partnership with Somerville College at the University of Oxford, Adessium Foundation and Oceans 5. It is supported by Pew, Adessium Foundation, Oceans 5 and the Swire Group Charitable Trust, but is independent of all. It is hosted by Somerville College. For more information, visit www.globaloceancommission.org.