How can we manage the high seas? Navigating choppy waters

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Exploring the threats facing the high seas and solutions to preserve a biodiverse ocean for generations to come

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Webinar Introduction

Our vast oceans are home to incredible biodiversity, much of which is yet undiscovered. However, around two thirds of the ocean (and almost all of the deep ocean) lies within the high seas, beyond zones of national jurisdiction, yet at present there is no framework to protect this common resource. Although remote this part of our planet is not removed from the impacts of human activities that are already causing the degradation of many marine ecosystems. Consequently there has never been a more urgent need to ensure that our oceans can be managed sustainably. In this webinar, forming part of the Oxford Environmental Research Doctoral Training Partnership’s Grand Challenges seminar series, our expert panel and chair will explore the threats facing ecosystems in the high seas and the steps we can take to ensure that this essential commons is preserved for future generations. This webinar is particularly timely given the ongoing negotiations for the UN Convention for the Law of the Sea.

Chair: Dr Lucy Woodall (Senior Research Fellow, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford & Chief Scientist, Nekton)

Lucy is a marine biologist with a passion for sharing the delights and importance of the aquatic world with global citizens. While her work broadly focuses on the processes that drive biodiversity in the marine biome, including the impacts of human activities including plastic pollution, she has also worked in coastal and deep sea habitats. Her microplastics research was the first to reveal the ubiquity of this pollutant in the deep sea which led to further work on marine debris in our most remote oceans. She provides expert opinion for international and national organisations on marine conservation and sustainable marine management, is a member of many applied working parties such as the High Level Panel Expert Group for the UN on Sustainable Ocean Economy and gives talks at public events throughout the year.Panelists

Professor Kerry Howell (Professor of Deep-Sea Ecology, University of Plymouth)

Kerry Howell is Professor of Deep-Sea Ecology at the School of Biological and Marine Sciences, University of Plymouth. Kerry's research is focused on understanding biodiversity patterns in the deep sea. From an applied perspective, Kerry's research is focused on sustainable management of the deep-sea ecosystem, particularly in supporting the effective design of marine protected area networks, including the creation of reliable habitat maps and models of population connectivity that underpin MPA design.

Jessica Battle (Senior Expert in Global Ocean Policy and Governance, WWF)

Jessica Battle is Senior Global Ocean Governance and Policy Expert, and leads the Deep Seabed Mining Initiative at WWF. She is a highly experienced programme manager and strategic thinker, with extensive high-level policy advocacy and communications experience. She is passionate about sustainable development and works to reform how ocean decisions are made – to shift the current thinking from short termism to people-centred, long term and integrated management. She is currently working on a campaign for a moratorium on deep seabed mining, SDG 14 implementation, promoting a sustainable Blue Economy, on oceans and climate change, and influencing the new global ocean agreement at the UN.

Alan Simcock (UN Group of Experts of the Regular Process)

After graduating with first-class honours from the University of Oxford, Alan Simcock studied economics and statistics at the Treasury Centre for Administrative Studies. He was Private Secretary to successive United Kingdom Prime Ministers in 1969 – 1972, and then worked in the UK Department of the Environment. In 1991, he was asked to set up a new division to coordinate UK policy on the marine environment and was Chairman of the OSPAR Commission for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North East Atlantic. In 1999, he chaired the informal negotiations in the UN Commission on Sustainable Development on the review of the oceans. These resulted in the establishment of the UN Informal Consultative Process on the Oceans and the Law of the Sea, of which he was appointed co-chairperson for its first three years. From 2001 to 2006 he was the Executive Secretary of OSPAR. Since retirement in 2006, he has been involved with the United Nations’ regular process for global ocean assessment. He was joint coordinator of the Group of Experts for this process in 2009 – 2015 for World Ocean Assessment I, and is also coordinating World Ocean Assessment II, which will be presented to the UN General Assembly later in 2020.

Dr Nirmal Shah (CEO, Nature Seychelles)

Nirmal is a well-known figure in the Seychelles conservation scene having an encyclopedic knowledge of Seychelles biodiversity as well as a wealth of experience in environmental management. He was formerly the Assistant Director of Fisheries Research, the Director of the Seychelles Conservation and National Parks service as well as the Managing Director of an environmental firm, ENVIRO where he worked on projects covering almost every aspect of environmental management. He was the coordinator of the Seychelles National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan process and of the Environmental Management Plan of Seychelles 2000-2010. He has worked for international organizations such as the World Bank, IUCN, UNEP, Sida, and UNESCO.

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