Common Oceans - Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (ABNJ)

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Common Oceans

Marine Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (ABNJ) are those areas of ocean for which no one nation has sole responsibility for management. They are the common oceans that make up 40% of the surface of our planet, comprising 64% of the surface of the oceans and nearly 95% of its volume.

The ABNJ comprise the high seas and the seabed beyond the (extended) continental shelf of coastal States and include complex ecosystems at vast distances from coasts, making sustainable management of fisheries resources and biodiversity conservation in those areas difficult and challenging.

These ecosystems are subject to impacts from all sectors and human activities – from shipping to marine pollution to fishing and mining. Dealing with these can be compounded by problems in coordinating, disseminating and building capacity for best practices and in capitalizing on successful experiences, especially those related to the management of fisheries in ABNJ. Without urgent action, the currently unsustainable management of many ABNJ fisheries, and the ineffective protection of related ecosystems, will have devastating results on marine biodiversity and on the socio-economic well-being and food security of the millions of people directly dependent on those fisheries.

The Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction Program (ABNJ) – often referred to as Common 
Oceans – is a broad-scale, innovative approach to achieve efficient and sustainable management of fisheries resources and biodiversity conservation in marine areas that do not fall under the responsibility of any one country.

To achieve this goal, the Program is comprised of four specific areas of work: