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New commission takes on high-seas issues

A ‘Global Ocean Commission’ of leading politicians has formed to look for practical solutions to the problems presented by the increasing importance and utilization of the high seas.

The areas of the ocean outside of direct control by countries are increasingly exploited by fishing vessels, with deep-sea miners and drillers waiting in the wings. At the same time, many scientists have raised concerns about the ecological changes being wrought on these areas by climate change and other consequences of human activity.

The commission was set up by the University of Oxford, UK, and three non-governmental organizations: the Pew Environment Group, the Adessium Foundation and Oceans 5. It will seek to assess current threats to the high seas and come up with practical solutions, co-chairs David Miliband, a UK politician and former environment secretary, and Jose Maria Figueres, former president of Costa Rica, told reporters on Tuesday. Their recommendations are expected in 2014.

“The high seas are owned by everyone, but their management and governance are inadequate,” said Figueres, citing issues such as overfishing, habitat loss and climate change. “The science indicates we must address these issues now.”

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