Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Australian National Centre for Ocean Resources and Security (ANCORS) - Faculty of Law, Humanities and the Arts


The conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJ) is a global challenge. The loss of marine biodiversity has been attributed to intensifying human activities on and in the oceans, and the nonparticipation in and non-compliance by States with international and regional fisheries instruments. The special legal status of the high seas as a global commons also contributes to the difficulties in achieving the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in ABNJ. With no legal instruments adequately addressing the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in ABNJ, there is a pressing need to find ways to address obstacles to marine biodiversity conservation in ABNJ. The strengthening of the legal and institutional framework at the regional level provides such an option.

This thesis examines the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in the high seas from a fisheries-threat perspective, focusing on the ecologically important and productive Southeast Pacific region. Regional cooperation, mainly across sectors, is a key requirement for successful high seas management and the conservation and sustainable use of high seas biodiversity. Regional fisheries management organisations (RFMOs) are key players in this endeavour as they provide a platform for States to cooperate regionally and develop management principles and procedures.

The Southeast Pacific encompasses an area of 30.02 million km2 extending from northern Colombia to southern Chile and is the second most productive fisheries region in the world. This thesis examines the adequacy of the regional legal and institutional framework of the Southeast Pacific to address the conservation of high seas biodiversity. In a first step, it critically assesses the level of interaction and cooperation between the three regional fisheries organisations in the region: Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC), South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organisation (SPRFMO) and Comisión Permanente del Pacífico Sur (CPPS; Permanent Commission for the South Pacific). It then analyses the extent to which these regional fisheries organisations have incorporated global legal provisions and measures pertinent to the conservation of high seas biodiversity into their conventions and implemented them.

This is the first study of its kind with a focus on RFMO governance from a high seas biodiversity conservation perspective. It is also the first comprehensive regional study focusing on evaluating institutional interplay management, cooperation between RFMOs and regional seas organisations (RSOs) and the incorporation of biodiversity obligations in RFMOs within one region.

This thesis concludes that, although this region has several opportunities to strengthen the conservation and sustainable use of high seas biodiversity, it still has to overcome a range of institutional, cooperative and management challenges. It proposes options to improve the conservation and sustainable use of high seas biodiversity in the Southeast Pacific, ranging from legal, scientific and institutional cooperative mechanisms to the strengthening of conservation and management and compliance and enforcement measures.



Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.