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Providing and explaining legal information is one of Sealife’s core missions. The information in this section focuses on international laws as they apply to sea turtles, sharks, fisheries, and MPAs in the Caribbean. 


Please contact me if you cannot find the answer to your question or you need a clarification.


These ancient marines are protected by a variety of laws at all levels. Strictness, scope, and effectiveness differ from place to place creating a patchwork of measures.


The word “shark” in  documents usually also covers rays and sometimes chimaeras. Figuring out which ones of these gentle giants and ferocious predators are covered is key.



Food, income, biodiversity are all dependant on sustainable fisheries. Learn what it means to implement the ecosystem approach to fisheries.



The term Marine Protected Area describes an area set aside for conservation. Rules governing MPAs can very from site to site even within the same country.


What’s the Law of the Sea?


The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) is the “constitution” for the oceans. It divides the oceans into three main zones: territorial sea, exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and high seas. Coastal states have the right to exploit natural resources within their EEZs, but this right comes with the responsibility to protect and preserve the marine environment. Consisting of 320 articles and close to 200 pages, UNCLOS deals with issues such as navigation, sea bed resources, scientific research, and fisheries.

What’s the Convention on Biological Diversity?

Also known as the CBD (not to be confused with CBD, the Center for Biological Diversity, an environmental law charity), the Convention promotes conservation of species and their habitats, among other things. The parties to CBD, which includes almost all countries in the world, have agreed on the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and the Aichi Biodiversity Targets.


Some notable targets include: Target 6, which directs the parties to apply ecosystem based approaches to fisheries management to avoid overfishing, help recovery of depleted species, and avoid adverse impacts on threatened species and vulnerable ecosystems. Target 10 instructs the parties to minimize anthropogenic impacts on ecosystems that are vulnerable to climate change or ocean acidification. Target 11 directs the parties to designate at least ten per cent of coastal and marine areas that are connected and ecologically representative as protected areas. Finally, in order to meet Target 12, parties have to prevent extinction and improve the conservation status of known threatened species. 

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