Main Issue

Marine Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (ABNJ), commonly called the high seas, are those areas of ocean for which no one nation has sole responsibility for management. In all, these make up 40 percent of the surface of our planet, comprising 64 percent of the surface of the oceans and nearly 95 percent of its volume.

Urgent action is needed to improve management of many ABNJ fisheries and strengthen protection of related ecosystems. In this way, we can prevent devastating impacts on marine biodiversity, socio-economic well-being and food security for millions of people directly dependent on those fisheries. Read more+

What We Do

Within the ABNJ (often characterized as the areas beyond the national exclusive economic zone), the GEF has primarily been investing in tuna fisheries and its management, but also in an Applied Ecosystem-Based Approach to Fisheries Management of seamounts in the Southern Indian Ocean.

The waters of the Western and Central Pacific (WCP) region, for example, hold the world’s largest tuna stocks, as well as large numbers of sharks, billfish and other large pelagics. Sustainable management of WCP tuna stocks is critical not only to the well-being of the region’s people, but also for the international community seeking to conserve an economic resource of global value. Read more+


The waters surrounding the Small Island Developing States of the Pacific support the largest tuna fishery of any ocean. In 2004, GEF support led directly to the establishment of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission. The Commission has responsibility for the conservation, management and sustainable use of tuna resources across a convention area that covers approximately 100 million km2 — or 20 percent of the Earth’s surface.

The GEF project supported the Pacific island nations as they negotiated a new, ecosystem-based convention — a 10-year process. One of the goals of the Convention on the Conservation and Management of Highly Migratory Fish Stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean is to ensure that all Pacific countries benefit from the sustainable management of a regional resource worth over US$4 billion a year. Apart from helping Pacific countries optimize economic returns from its rich tuna stocks, the project has put in place conservation and management measures to mitigate overfishing bigeye and yellowfin tuna stocks.