World Ocean Council to document human activities at seas

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The World Ocean Council (WOC) says it is organizing an official side event at the U.N. Headquarters in New York, Us to document human activities on the seas.

The theme of the event is “Methods and Tools for Documenting Human Activity and Assessing Threat and Risk to High Seas Biodiversity”.

The event will take place on 28 August, during the current round of U.N. negotiations to expand the Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) to include a new legally binding instrument on the conservation and sustainable use of marine life in areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ).

The BBNJ seeks to address the effects of human activity on biodiversity, e.g. through environmental impact assessments and area-based management tools. In order for these to be targeted and effective, it will be beneficial to: 
• Document the kinds of human activities actually taking place in specific high seas areas 
• Determine whether these activities constitute a threat to biodiversity 
• Identify whether these activities are actually a risk to organisms, populations, species or their habitat in specific locations

The WOC side event will examine the options and experience in documenting human activity in the marine environment and assessing the threat and risk to biodiversity from economic activity at sea based on science and evidence. A case study of methods developed and applied by BMT and the government in Australia will be reviewed, its lessons learned presented and the applicability to the high seas considered.

Greg Fisk, Environment Director from the global marine science and technology firm BMT, said, “With major changes to spatial planning and impact assessment proposed for the high seas, it is critical that future decision-making is underpinned by scientific evidence and that priority threats are identified and managed. This side event will present an emerging methodology from Australia for how threats and risks to marine biodiversity from offshore economic activities can be assessed in a comprehensive framework.”

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