Between 1950 and 1989, marine fisheries catch in the open-ocean and deep-sea beyond 200 nautical miles from the shore increased by a factor of more than 10. While high seas catches have since plateaued, fishing effort continues to increase linearly.

The combination of increasing effort and illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing has led to overfishing of target stocks and declines in biodiversity. To improve management, there has been numerous calls to increase monitoring, control and surveillance. In fact, the United Nations General Assembly is currently negotiating a new international treaty for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction.

This study identifies ways that automatic identification system* (AIS) data can inform monitoring, control and surveillance on the high seas and thereby enhance conservation and management of biodiversity beyond national jurisdictions.

The authors highlight that that AIS data can be used to: 1. Identify gaps in governance to underpin the importance of a holistic scope for the new agreement, 2. Monitor area-based management tools (e.g. MPAs) and 3. Increase the capacity of countries and fisheries management organizations to manage via the technology transfer.

The authors conclude that AIS data together with government-industry-civil society partnerships are critical elements to improving monitoring, control and surveillance and ensuring effective conservation measures and sustainable use of biodiversity beyond national jurisdictions.

*Automatic tracking system used on ships, it provides information on unique identification, position, course and speed.

Dunn DC et al. (2018) Empowering high seas governance with satellite vessel tracking data. Fish and fisheries 19:729-739.