246 Yong Wang
In the last four decades, marine vertebrates (fish, seabirds, sea turtles, and marine
mammals) have significantly declined by 22 percent on average.
A recent review
article in Science predicts a major extinction event in the oceans if human impacts
on the marine environment go unchecked.
Meanwhile, the protection of marine
environment on the high seas has also attracted great attention from the international
community. However, the legal and institutional frameworks that govern marine
biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction (“ABNJ”) are widely perceived as
inadequate for ensuring the long-term health and equitable use of the living resources
in this vast area.
In order to protect marine environment in ABNJ, representatives
from over one hundred States, governments and NGOs participated in the
negotiations of drafting a BBNJ convention, which have already completed four pre-
After serveral rounds of extensive negotiations, on July 21,
elements of a draft text of an international legally binding instrument (“ILBI”) under
the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (“UNCLOS”) to the UN
On December 24, 2017, the United Nations General Assembly
adopted Resolution 72/249 that decided to initiate formal governmental negotiations
on the issue, aiming at drafting a legally binding international document of biological
diversities beyond national jurisdiction (“BBNJ”).
One key issue about the BBNJ is the potential establishment of high seas Marine
Protected Areas (“MPAs”).
Arguably, the establishment of the high seas MPAs may
give rise to potential conflicts between the jurisdiction of high seas MPAs and the
1 D. McCauley et al., Marine defaunation: animal loss in the global ocean, 347 SCI. 247(2015).
3 A.-M. Hubert, UN General Assembly Resolution to Develop a New Legally Binding Instrument on the Conservation
and Sustainable Use of Marine Biological Diversity of Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (Aug. 14, 2015), available
4 BBNJ’s four pre committees were held in New York as follows: (1) Mar. 28 - Apr. 8, 2016; (2) Aug. 26 - Sept. 9, 2016;
(3) Mar. 27 - Apr. 7, 2017; (4) July 10-17, 2017.
6 G.A. Res.72/249, U.N. Doc. A/RES/72/249 (Jan. 19, 2018), available at https://undocs.org/en/A/AC.287/2017/PC.4/2.
7 Id. As the areas beyond national jurisdiction include the high seas and the Area, the MPAs beyond national jurisdiction
also include high seas MPAs and the Area MPAs. The paper only borrows the name of high seas MPAs, so the high
seas MPAs in this paper not only refer to marine protected areas located on the high seas, but also the international