Governance of the High Seas: An Inclusive Approach

May 29 2018 @ 9:00 AM - 6:00 PM

The World Ocean Network is organising an innovative interactive workshop on the governance of the high seas that will take place at JPI Oceans in Brussels on the 29th of May, 2018. This workshop is organised in the framework of the EU-funded project MARINA, and will follow a participatory method known as Structured Democratic Dialogue.

The purpose of this workshop is to engage all relevant stakeholders and discuss how the governance of the high seas can be improved by Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI). The workshop’s outcome will be an integrated roadmap of recommendations based on the RRI dimensions: public engagement, science education, open access, gender equality, ethics and governance.

More about the topic of the High Seas

The high seas represent two thirds of the Ocean surface and are one of the world’s major sources of biodiversity. They provide unique resources and potential for different sectors such as fisheries or the use of marine organisms. They also connect all human beings through marine transportation and underwater cables. They are a zone to be explored and a field for innovation and research. As they are considered terra nullius, no State has control over them, unlike the exclusive economic zones (EEZ) and territorial seas where States have special rights on marine resources.

There is a need to find a global solution for the governance of the high seas. Some activities are regulated thanks to regional or sectorial conventions such as fisheries, toxic waste disposal or migratory species protection. However, this governance is very fragmented and there is a lack of cooperation among organisations. The lack of management of the high seas could have disastrous effects on marine biodiversity, fish stocks, and the capacity of the ocean to regulate climate and produce the oxygen we breathe.

Therefore, it becomes important to engage all stakeholders in the governance of the high seas and avoid what the biologist Garett Hardin in 1968 called the “tragedy of the commons”: a resource used by all but managed by none. On this topic, after ten years of discussions, the United Nations decided in 2015 to start negotiations for a more comprehensive and legally binding agreement to protect the high seas. The European Union also takes part in the global governance of the ocean.

In this context, Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI), with its six dimensions (public engagement, science education, open access, gender equality, ethics and governance), could represent a framework to allow societal values and expectations to be considered in the process of fostering a good governance for the high seas.

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Event type



JPI Oceans


4, Troonstraat
1000 Brussels


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