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My vision

My Vision about the High Seas

The Common Good of the Sea

In my opinion, in a very near future, providing enough food for the whole humanity will become the main challenge we face as a global species. The most important value of all will not be gold or diamonds, oil or gas, not even rare earth elements or personal data, but only food for all of us on earth. Jewels are not a necessity, neither are gluttonous cars or the latest smartphones, for us to live well. On the other hand, food shortages lead to population migrations and deadly conflicts. Driven by hunger, each of us is able to steal and to fight. The vital need for food supplants everything else. Because of the expected global resource depletion, food supplies will become the 21th century’s first means of political power and influence. The United Nations Organization (UNO) should be able to count on a supranational food production, as my project can provide. Food sufficiency for all is the first guarantee of peace.

Please consider that my opinion engages only myself, and those who think the same  !

I would like to see the huge amounts of marine animal proteins that my project is likely to produce when fully developed directed first towards family-based and small fish farms, in a manner that allows redirection easily and quickly to communities in need. At the same time, mussels are foremost an excellent food for humans. As the programme expands, a part of the production could be put at the disposal of the World Food Programme (WFP). To ensure that no national power can interfere and require the collecting of its own taxes, this production needs to be directly accountable to UNO in the framework of the Common Heritage of Humanity.

This concept was first defined legally in 1982 at Montego Bay by the Convention on the Law Of the Sea (UNCLOS), giving birth to Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ), inside 200 nautical miles off the coasts, in which all resources belong to the contiguous country, and also to the International Seabed Authority (ISA), which was charged to manage the mining resources of the seabed outside EEZ (called The Area) for humanity. The ISA gives mining licenses to countries or companies and surveys their activities in term of pollution, together with their benefits in term of sharing. Some mining licenses are already active, but the resulting obligations remained unclear, though is true that the opportunity to exploit polymetallic nodules, hydrothermal vents or cobalt crusts is technically and economically not yet mature. Seabed mining will certainly really start first inside EEZs, on the continental shelf, where it is clear that the benefits will never have to be shared for the Common Good.

But in the water column outside EEZs, not any legal framework protects the marine biodiversity. New industrial fisheries activities, such as deep sea bottom trawling or fish aggregating devices (FAD), are already widely exploited, and plunder the sea for the interests of a few. This remaining free area (on a first-come, first-served basis) called The Commons, covers half of our planet and belongs to all of us!

The High Seas Alliance, which counts more than 40 environmental NGOs, mobilised since 2011 to initiate a competent authority, which is able to regulate The Commons in the interest of the public good. An UN ad-hoc and open-ended informal working group was first charged to find issues for the governance of marine Biological diversity Beyond areas of National Jurisdiction (BBNJ). A major step was taken on January 2015 when the United Nations agreed to begin negotiating a legally binding treaty to conserve marine biodiversity in the high seas. The first round of negotiations started at the end of March 2016 for two weeks, but the talks are limited to the definition of Marine Protected Areas and the global sharing of biological patents derived from marine organisms. It is still good news, but what will be the state of the oceans when a binding resolution may be adopted… in 10 years at best?? For my part, I think that market forces are likely to act much faster.

Beyond EEZ, everybody is free today to build an infrastructure, an artificial island, the status of which is ruled by the owner’s nation, or a flag of convenience. For myself, being already a dual French and German citizen, I lack only the other 191 UN member nationalities, or at least their majority, to be an international representative!  I need to have an international global status, in order to confirm the belonging of this production to the Common Heritage of Humanity, and to be able to pay the appropriate taxes to all nations together (to the World Food Programme), and not only to one. I call for a supranational High Seas Economic Authority to make that possible.

The high seas cover half of the world(Source: Marine Conservation Institute, MPAtlas)

The Blue Amazon

Davis Bank, the perfect guyot in my view for my project, is situated between two separate Brazilian EEZs, the main continental one, and the one around the islands of Trindade and Martim Vaz. In the year 2004, as it had the right to, Brazil submitted to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) an extension of its EEZ beyond 200 nautical miles. My concern is that this Brazilian submission, called Blue Amazon, attempts to join its two EEZs in order to cover all the Vitória-Trindade Seamount Chain, including Davis Bank.

This has been requested despite the fact that the raising of these submarine volcanoes is obviously due to a magmatic hotspot, and has nothing to do with the continental shelf. This submission was partially rejected by CLCS on April 2007, but Brazil submitted new study papers in April 2015 to try to reverse the original decision. The consideration of this submission was programmed for the 38th session of CLCS from July to September 2015, but as far as I am aware, the resulting recommendations have not been published. However, as far as Brazil’s hopes for ongoing oil prospecting beyond the actual EEZ is concerned, the section between the continental EEZ and Trindade-Martim Vaz is still preserved.

(Source: Marinha do Brazil) 


The Funding

I am convinced that ecology should be placed above politics and business, but I’m pragmatic enough to realise that financial interests control events in the world. Our global economic decision-makers could show a little more wisdom and a little less acquisitiveness, but I suppose this is a wishful thinking  . That’s why I believe that only a more sustainable and profitable business (healthy fish farming), which markets the same quality product as the wild fisheries around the world, will be able to slow and finally stop today’s overfishing.

The better our aquaculture, the less we fish, and let the oceans live! 

I estimate my mussel farm project on High Seas is likely to cost about one billion US- dollars to make it become a reality, but this is little more than a guestimate. The range lies between slightly less and much more . What is clear is that the need of very substancial financial facilities is an inescapable feather. Each simple operation on open sea is tremendously expensive. I cannot start in my garage as others did, and I am not at the head of a personal fortune. Furthermore, this project is not the sort that could start small and grow. Production would have to begin on a large scale to allow to garantee this high quality product at an affordable price.

At this point, I need to clarify that funds from capital risk entities or hedge funds will hardly be interested, because the goal is not to make more money, at least until the world’s population is nourished properly and the oceans have regained their biological balance. So time is given for them to wait and see! .

In order to finance my project, I do neither believe in crowdfunding which is costly and stays limited at a few million US- dollars in the best of cases. These are far too limited funds to start a process at sea, and even less on the High Seas. Today’s aquaculture major players have only been able to expand thanks to strong capital investments from the likes of the oil industry (Norway), wild fishing industry (Chile) or ship owners (Greece). Furthermore, these aquaculture facilities have always been located nearshore until now and not so far on the High Seas.

Perhaps the fish farming industry itself, or its common interest groups, like the Global Salmon Initiative, could invest conjointly in this project. They have the most to gain by developing a sustainable long chain omega-3 rich feed to secure their own sustainable and healthy production of farmed fish. It is up to them to choose to produce a healthy natural food for us in the future or not.

I think also of all those billionaires, who have decided to give half of their fortune to philanthropy during their lifetime. To date, more than 200 of them have made their commitment within the framework of the Giving Pledge, founded by Bill Gates and Warren Buffet. I am sure that most of them are sincere and not involved in philanthro-capitalism (the smart way to give for its own interests).

A third perspective is the involvement of UNO itself, to create a supranational food suply, and make a start establishing concretely the Common Heritage of Humanity by initiating a global economy on the High Seas for the benefit of all of us, the beginning of an universal income.

Meanwhile, brain contributions are already welcome. Please wait for the financial ones  , until I’ve found the best provisory status to receive them without national taxation losses. We keep in touch.

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