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6 March 2023

MSC calls on States to urgently ratify High Seas Treaty

On 5 March 2023, members of the United Nations reached a historic agreement on protecting marine biodiversity in international waters.

Commenting on the agreement, Rupert Howes, Chief Executive of the Marine Stewardship Council said:

“After almost two decades of negotiations, agreement of the High Seas Treaty is a significant step forwards to strengthen international protection of our ocean.  At the Treaty’s heart is the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity – a goal which the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) supports and which is central to sustainable fishing.  

A healthy, thriving ocean is essential for wild fisheries and the communities that depend on them. As States move to ratify the Treaty, it is vital that the role of sustainable fishing is recognised. MSC-certified fisheries – including those catching commercially and ecologically iconic species such as tuna, toothfish and small pelagics on the high seas – demonstrate that it is possible for international fisheries to meet the highest bar for sustainability provided effective international management, science and monitoring is in place.   

But faster progress is necessary, as the ocean faces mounting pressure from climate change, overfishing and biodiversity loss coupled with increasing global demand for seafood.  We therefore urge nations to ratify the Treaty as a matter of urgency and to recognise the role of fishers alongside policy makers, businesses and NGOs in shaping its implementation. Taking onboard these perspectives will be vital to ensuring the Treaty supports the food security and livelihoods of billions around the planet while also conserving our incredible ocean.”