Edited by Rosemary Rayfuse
Chapter 14: Environmental assessment in marine areas beyond national jurisdiction
AbstractKnowledge of the threats posed to the oceans by human activity has expanded beyond marine pollution to encompass recognition of the risks posed to vulnerable marine ecosystems by overfishing, destructive fisheries practices and invasive exploitation of living and non-living marine resources. The environmental impact assessment (EIA) process plays an important role in clarifying the nature of these threats and developing measures to mitigate adverse impacts. While legal and institutional frameworks for EIA are well established in many countries for marine areas under national jurisdiction, collaborative structures and mechanisms to achieve the same objectives in marine areas beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJ) are still fragmentary and underdeveloped. This chapter reviews the existing international law and policy framework for EIA in ABNJ highlighting key gaps in legal and institutional coverage at global, regional and sectoral levels. It explores the complex challenges involved in implementing EIA in ABNJ and the steps that have been taken within particular marine sectors to develop a more comprehensive and robust framework for environmental assessment in these extensive areas of the ocean. It discusses recent global initiatives for developing the international law framework for conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in ABNJ and the rationale for including EIA provisions in a potential international agreement under the LOSC. Finally, it critically analyses the options for incorporating EIA elements in such an agreement.
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