In This Chapter

The international legal framework for the protection and sustainable use of marine biological diversity

Authored by: Youna Lyons , Denise Cheong

Routledge Handbook of Biodiversity and the Law

Print publication date:  December  2017
Online publication date:  November  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138693302
eBook ISBN: 9781315530857
Adobe ISBN:


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The last two decades have seen an intensification of projects and programmes designed to map, investigate and better understand marine biological diversity (biodiversity, for short) at local and global scales. 1 Scientific publications also report tirelessly on threatened, near-extinct and extinct species as well as newly discovered species: a common feature of under-studied marine ecosystems such as the deep seabed or other systems found in areas which are difficult to access. However, efforts to protect marine biodiversity are slowed by the tension that exists between conservation efforts, which aim to set aside 10% of all wildernesses as ‘natural reserves’, 2 and development efforts led by industries and many governments, which favour economic growth and the use of oceans and their resources. The existing legal framework for the protection and sustainable use of marine biodiversity reflects this tension as it includes rules from conservation treaties as well as from treaties relating to uses of the sea. The perspective presented in this chapter is that the protection of marine biodiversity should not be framed solely as a conservation issue but that it should also be considered in the context of pollution of the sea and generally all regulations designed to protect the marine environment through the limitation of environmental impacts from activities at sea. This is because pollution thresholds and other restrictions in the use of marine ecosystems are necessary to ensure the protection of biodiversity in areas that have been identified as warranting protection under the conservation treaties.

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