At the start of this year, EJN launched a global project to highlight the importance of the high seas as part of our Ocean Media Initiative, through which we aim to improve the quality and quantity of ocean-related stories in the media and build the capacity of journalists to report on ocean-related issues more effectively.
With support from the Paul M. Angell Family Foundation, we turned our focus toward improving coverage of the high seas, or areas beyond national jurisdiction. The high seas represent 95% of the earth’s total habitat by volume, yet stories about their importance, the threats they face – from the climate crisis to overfishing to seabed mining – and the gaps in their governance are few and far between.
To help meet this need, EJN is pleased to support the production of nine in-depth stories on the high seas focused on eight countries around the world.
- Ofani Eremae and Lee van der Voo will produce an investigative story highlighting a spate of observer deaths in the Pacific Islands, often aboard vessels fishing for tuna to supply brands that are certified sustainable.
- Francesco de Augustinis will explore the myriad implications of overfishing ocean krill in Antarctica.
- Anastasia Ika will report on the negative impact of offshore seismic surveying and shipping routes on cetaceans’ migration patterns in Indonesia’s Savu Sea.
- Katie Rodriguez will provide an in-depth snapshot of the different kinds of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) from Peru, exploring what effective conservation might look like on the high seas.
- Susan Claire Agbayani will assess whether domestic laws and existing international cooperative efforts are successful at protecting migratory species within 200 nautical miles of ASEAN countries in the West Philippine Sea/South China Sea and the Coral Triangle.
- Procopio Resabal will highlight the detrimental impacts of commercial fishing on marine biodiversity and coastal communities in the Philippines, and how commercial operators consistently elude law enforcement.
- Franklin Vega will trace supply chains and uncover under-reported aspects of the illegal shark trade that thrives in Ecuador’s territorial waters and the surrounding high seas.
- Emilio Godoy will look into the obstacles Mexico faces to produce low-sulfur content fuel oil, despite regulations that require the country to comply with the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) new standards to diminish greenhouse gas emissions from marine vessels.
- Douglas Joseph Varchol and Larry Raigetal will produce a documentary on Indigenous wayfinding in Guam, and how traditional knowledge can inform ocean governance and better protect the high seas against threats such as pollution, overfishing and a rapidly changing climate.
“In the coming years, the health of the ocean will determine whether a livable and sustainable future for all remains within reach. Yet, two-thirds of it lies beyond national jurisdiction and an agreement on how to safeguard the high seas against climate change and biodiversity loss doesn’t yet exist. In this context, we're pleased to support journalists to shed light on under-reported threats to the high seas and to bring more attention to the urgent negotiations to conserve them,” says Amrita Gupta, EJN’s editor and high seas project manager.
Look out for these stories on the EJN website in coming months.
Banner image: A seagull in flight over Antarctica’s waters/ Credit: Torsten Dederichs via Unsplash.