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The legal regime for the high seas is fragmented both sectorally and geographically and is incomplete. Governance, regulatory, substantive and implementational gaps in the legal framework serve to limit the effectiveness of the high seas regime in securing a sustainable future for the conservation and use of the high seas environment and its resources. A global approach to further developing the high seas regime based on the concept of international public trusteeship for the oceans beyond national jurisdiction could foster environmentally responsible use of of the high seas and its resources and ensure the application of modern conservation principles and management tools to human activities on the high seas. In view of escalating threats to the oceans from existing and emerging uses and form the impacts of climate change, transformation to a legal regime better suited to integrated, cross-sectoral management and preservation of vital ocean ecosystem services and resilience may no longer be a luxury, but rather a necessity.