1st Edition

Marine Conservation and International Law Legal Instruments for Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction

By Sarah Louise Lothian Copyright 2023
    320 Pages 5 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    320 Pages 5 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book provides a blueprint for an International Legally Binding Instrument (ILBI) for the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ). The development of an ILBI could signify a pivotal turning point in the law of the sea by addressing regulatory, governance and institutional gaps and deficiencies in the existing international law framework for BBNJ.

    This book analyses the essential components an ILBI will require to effectively conserve and sustainably use BBNJ, focusing on marine genetic resources, areabased management tools, environmental impact assessments, capacity-building and marine technology transfer. It investigates potential areas of compromise, as the success of an ILBI will rely upon the support of a powerful bloc of maritime States, principally the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia, the Netherlands, France and Japan. The participation of major maritime powers will be critical as it is their nationals, corporations and flag vessels that have the financial and technical wherewithal to undertake activities beyond national jurisdiction. This bloc of States has historically been the strongest proponent of the Grotian doctrine of ‘freedom of the seas’ as it aligns with their predominant interest to preserve navigational freedom for their merchant and military fleets. Accordingly, this book assesses the extent to which the Grotian doctrine continues to exert influence on the development of the law of the sea and the development of an ILBI.

    Providing a comprehensive overview of this important development in international law, this book will be of interest to students, lecturers and academics of law of the sea, international environmental law and biodiversity law.


    List of abbreviations


    0.1 The development of the law of the sea

    0.2 The Grotian doctrine and maritime (flag) States—past and present

    0.3 Is the BBNJ process a case of history repeating itself?

    0.4 Building bridges between competing positions 7

    0.5 Understanding the essential components of an ILBI

    0.6 A principled backbone

    0.7 An access and benefit-sharing (ABS) regime built on planks of compromise

    0.8 A modern, flexible and compromise approach to MPAs

    0.9 Overarching recipe for environmentally sustainable decision-making in ABNJ

    0.10 A sine qua non of the ILBI—capacity-building and technology transfer (CBTT)


    1 The promise and limits of international legal protection of BBNJ


    1.1 Areas beyond national jurisdiction

    1.1.1 The geographical scope of the ILBI The high seas The Area

    1.2 Marine biological diversity

    1.2.1 The material scope of the ILBI The concept of biological diversity Defining marine biodiversity in the ILBI

    1.2.2 The significance of BBNJ Hydrothermal vents—oases of life in a submarine desert Seamounts—majestic mountains in the sea 2 Cold-water corals (CWCs)—lush gardens in the deep-sea

    1.2.3 Ecosystem services

    1.3 The troubled waters of ABNJ

    1.3.1 Increasing threats from anthropogenic activities Fishing Deep-seabed mining Marine scientific research (MSR) Marine litter

    1.3.2 Increasing pressure from climate-associated stressors

    1.3.3 Gaps and limitations in the existing international law framework General framework nature of UNCLOS Patchwork of international, regional and sectoral bodies

    1.4 A brief historical overview of the BBNJ process

    1.4.1 Early developments Ad hoc Open-ended Informal Working Group (BBNJ Working Group) The Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) The current state of play

    1.5 Conclusion


    2 The Grotian tradition and its place in the BBNJ negotiations: Is it a case of history repeating itself?


    2.1 The history and formulation of the Grotian doctrine

    2.1.1 The dawn of Mare Liberum Ancient origins Dividing the oceans in half—the catalyst for Mare Liberum Open seas versus closed seas—the battle of the books The main components of Mare Liberum Maritime States and Mare Liberum—a special relationship begins The modern codification of the Grotian doctrine

    2.2 The Grotian doctrine and the Constitution for the Oceans

    2.2.1 How Mare Liberum fits within the UNCLOS framework Freedom of the high seas

    2.2.2 A balancing act—open seas versus closed seas

    2.2.3 Erosion of the Grotian doctrine

    2.3 Freedom of the high seas versus CHM

    2.3.1 An unequal freedom

    2.3.2 Opposite objectives

    2.3.3 The leader of the pack—the US

    2.3.4 Unwanted consequences

    2.4 The Grotian doctrine’s place in the BBNJ negotiations

    2.4.1 A feeling of déjà vu?

    2.4.2 Freedom of the high seas versus CHM 2.0 Freedom of the high seas and MGRs CHM and MGRs

    2.4.3 Marine protected areas (MPAs)

    2.5 The Grotian doctrine—building block or roadblock?

    2.5.1 The only way forward is compromise

    2.6 Conclusion


    3 A principled backbone: The potential role of modern governance principles and approaches in an ILBI


    3.1 Compiling a set of modern governance tools

    3.1.1 Benefits of a single source

    3.1.2 Implementation gaps Protection and preservation of the marine environment The ecosystem approach The precautionary principle The integration approach

    3.2 A principle-based approach to the management of ABNJ

    3.2.1 Completing the transition to principled ocean governance

    3.2.2 Function 1—guides for ocean governance in ABNJ

    3.2.3 Function 2—meat for the bones of the BBNJ package deal

    3.3 The implementation and operationalisation of governance principles and approaches through the BBNJ package deal

    3.3.1 Turning rhetoric into action

    3.3.2 Implementing and operationalising the ecosystem approach through MPAs

    3.3.3 Implementing and operationalising the precautionary principle through EIA

    3.3.4 Implementing and operationalising the integration approach through CBTT

    3.4 Conclusion


    4 A blueprint for Blue Gold: The search for planks of compromise in an ILBI


    4.1 Unpeeling layers of scope

    4.1.1 A common understanding of MGRs

    4.1.2 Marine scientific research (MSR) versus bioprospecting

    4.1.3 Monetary versus non-monetary benefits

    4.1.4 Vertical and horizontal layers of complexity

    4.2 A legal regime for MGRs of ABNJ

    4.2.1 A compromise for the ideological tug-of-war

    4.2.2 The CHM principle

    4.2.3 The freedom of the high seas

    4.2.4 The golden middle way

    4.3 A guiding principle for MGRs

    4.3.1 The CCH concept—a potential circuit-breaker?

    4.3.2 The potential role of CCH in an ILBI

    4.4 Access—the first pillar of an ABS regime

    4.4.1 To regulate, or not to regulate, that is the question A stringent approach to access A light approach to access

    4.4.2 An access model built on compromise An open access approach Environmentally sound access—linking ABS with ABMTs A common pool approach to ex-situ MGRs

    4.5 Benefit-sharing—the second pillar of an ABS regime

    4.5.1 A stringent approach to benefit-sharing

    4.5.2 A light approach to benefit-sharing

    4.5.3 A benefit-sharing model built on compromise

    4.6 Monitoring and compliance—the third pillar of an ABS regime

    4.6.1 A choice of institutions Extending an existing mandate

    4.6.2 A new body A compliance system built on notification and traceability Management of contribution fund and other relevant tasks

    4.7 Conclusion


    5 Caught in a geopolitical undertow: Marine protected areas beyond national jurisdiction


    5.1 MPAs in the current legal seascape

    5.1.1 An unfinished agenda

    5.1.2 Lack of a definition

    5.1.3 Lack of a global mechanism

    5.1.4 The prevailing regional and sectoral approach

    5.2 Are high seas MPAs still caught up in a geopolitical undertow?

    5.2.1 Kaye’s geopolitical factors The traditional high seas framework Strategic considerations High seas fisheries Marine scientific research (MSR) Deep-seabed issues The potential to undermine existing arrangements Geographically disadvantaged States Adjacent coastal States

    5.3 Geopolitical agendas—hindering progress, influencing outcomes

    5.3.1 The Southern Ocean—a case study

    5.3.2 The CAMLR Convention The South Orkney Islands southern shelf MPA The Ross Sea region MPA

    5.4 MPAs under an ILBI—clearing a path through compromise

    5.4.1 The MPA process

    5.4.2 Identification of priority protection areas Limitations of a VME-focused approach

    5.4.3 Designation process

    5.4.4 Decision-making

    5.5 Conclusion


    6 Environmental impact assessments: Devising a recipe for environmentally sustainable decision-making under an ILBI


    6.1 A recipe for the scope of EIA

    6.1.1 Defining EIA

    6.1.2 Objective and guiding principles

    6.1.3 Cumulative impacts

    6.2 A recipe for ‘when’ to conduct EIA

    6.2.1 Defining the obligation

    6.2.2 Activities that require EIA EIA mandatory for all activities A list approach A threshold test Geographical areas

    6.2.3 Combining screening mechanisms—a compromise approach

    6.3 A recipe for ‘how’ to conduct EIA in ABNJ

    6.3.1 The EIA process A clear set of general procedural steps A clear outline of roles and responsibilities in the decision-making process coupled with a level of international scrutiny and oversight A clear scope of the terms of reference of an EIA 226 A participatory process that engages all relevant stakeholders Review, monitoring and compliance provisions

    6.4 Conclusion


    7 Time to wake the Sleeping Giant: Implementing capacitybuilding and marine technology transfer in an ILBI


    7.1 CBTT under UNCLOS

    7.1.1 Introducing the Sleeping Giant Capacity-building (CB) Technology transfer (TT) The making of a dormant regime A disjunctive and fragmented framework

    7.2 The potential role of CBTT under an ILBI

    7.2.1 Giant by name, giant by nature MGRs and benefit-sharing ABMTs including MPAs EIA

    7.2.2 Overall objectives of an ILBI

    7.3 Mechanisms to wake the Sleeping Giant of UNCLOS

    7.3.1 A guide to strengthen existing UNCLOS requirements

    7.3.2 Formalising a clearing-house mechanism

    7.3.3 Enhancing the data-sharing infrastructure

    7.3.4 An innovative funding model

    7.3.5 A monitoring, review and follow-up mechanism

    7.3.6 A renewed sense of, and duty, to cooperate

    7.4 Conclusion


    8 A bridge to the future protection of BBNJ


    8.1 Significant milestones

    8.1.1 A flourishing cooperative spirit

    8.1.2 Agreement on a package deal

    8.1.3 The production of a draft negotiating text

    8.2 The current state of play

    8.3 Bridging the divide—potential compromise solutions

    8.4 Looking over the horizon—the future prospects of an ILBI


    Appendix 1 Section B of the PrepCom Report—areas of divergence

    Appendix 2 Comparison of proposed statements of principles for ABNJ

    Appendix 3 Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits arising from their Utilization to the Convention on Biological Diversity, Annex ‘Monetary and Non-Monetary Benefits’

    Appendix 4 Minimum dataset of information for collectors

    Appendix 5 Comparison of existing criteria to identify priority protection areas

    Appendix 6 Article 46 of the Revised Draft Negotiating Text List of CBTT activities



    Sarah Louise Lothian is a Lecturer at the Australian National Centre for Ocean Resources and Security (ANCORS), University of Wollongong, Australia and a Barrister at the New South Wales Bar.