By: Jacqueline Joyce Espenilla
The growing global interest in the ABNJ (Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction) comes hand in hand with risk. Due to the lack of a comprehensive regulatory regime, the ABNJ is already beginning to face numerous anthropogenic pressures including overfishing, marine pollution, loss of biodiversity, irresponsible conduct of marine scientific research (introduction of light and sound, removal of substrates, sedimentation, etc.), and climate change (ocean acidification and ocean warming). If this situation continues unchecked, the ABNJ (and the MGRs found within it) may be negatively affected even before the ABNJ is fully understood by mankind. This risk has created a strong impetus for stakeholders to begin negotiations for an international legally binding instrument (“ILBI”) for the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity of the ABNJ.