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Better governing the global commons: climate, biodiversity, oceans, outer space

Coral Reefs of the High Seas Coalition

  • Conservation International
  • South America
  • 2021
  • Scale-up project

Project overview

The Coral Reefs of the High Seas Coalition is a global alliance of partners that aims to protect coral reefs on the high seas by advancing the science, strategic communication, and political support necessary to catalyze action. Since its inception in 2019, the Coalition has regularly convened a multidisciplinary group of experts to generate the knowledge needed to guide policy recommendations, and engaged with organizations that regulate activities on the high seas to better position coral reefs for increased protection. To date, the Coalition has mostly focused its efforts on high seas surrounding the Salas y Gómez and Nazca ridges, two seamount chains in the Southeastern Pacific that are home to one of the most unique collections of biodiversity and cultural resources on Earth.



Presentation of the organization

Coordinated by Conservation International, the Coalition consists of 25 member organizations with expertise in ocean science, policy, law, and communications. Based on shared purpose and trust, coalition members meet regularly to advance its work, share information and resources.

How it works

Too many policymakers believe that the high seas are devoid of life or do not provide essential benefits to humanity. The Coalition's approach is to dispel this myth and inspire leaders to protect the high seas by documenting coral reefs in these remote ocean areas. Coral reefs are widely recognized as one of the top conservation priorities globally, yet their presence on the high seas was only recently documented through the work of the Coalition. The project regularly convenes a multidisciplinary group of scientists, explorers, policy advocates and communicators who share ocean conservation goals, yet previously worked in isolation from each other. Coalition members meet regularly to advance the work, focused on:
  1. Summarizing information from previous scientific explorations, as well as conducting new expeditions using state-of-the art technologies to gain understanding of high seas ecosystems;
  2. Producing videos, factsheets, and other communication products that aim to inspire decision-makers to protect high seas coralreefs;
  3. Engaging with intergovernmental organizations that regulate human activities on the high seas to better position coral reefs for increased protection.

Accomplishments

To date the Coalition has conducted two scientific expeditions that explored never-before-surveyed high seas coral reefs, and published 12 articles in renowned scientific journals that underscore the importance of protecting these special places for the benefit of people and nature. The scientific findings were used to underpin political efforts by the Chilean Government and various international organizations, who have elevated the Salas y Gómez and Nazca ridges as the most important areas to protect on the highseas globally.

2022 outlook

Over the next year, the Coalition has planned a third scientific expedition to explore high seas coral reefs in the South Pacific, and use that information to raise the profile of this region with key decision makers, media and the public, particularly during the High Seas Treaty Negotiations and meetings of the South Pacific Regional Fishery Management Organization.

Why focus on the high seas?

60
% of the ocean’s surface
50
% of the oxygen we breathe
1.5
billion tons of carbon dioxide captured each year
90
% of all life in the ocean
«

International collaboration and cooperation are absolutely critical to conserve biodiversity and cultural resources across the largest part of our ocean - the High Seas.

»
Daniel Wagner Ocean Science Technical Advisor, Conservation International

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