Last week’s passage of the UN High Seas Treaty by nearly 200 countries marked an important moment for the health of our ocean. As a global ocean health company, Running Tide applauds this Treaty and those who have worked since 2004 to ensure its passage. We now need to move from aspiration to action by ensuring that the new legally binding instrument is ratified by the necessary 60 countries. This agreement and the advancement of similar frameworks are critical to enabling interventions that protect and restore ocean health, including ocean-based carbon removal and ecosystem repair.
The ocean is a critical global commons — but ocean health is in rapid and accelerating decline. Since the Industrial Revolution, the ocean has taken up over 90% of the excess heat and approximately a third of the carbon dioxide from anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, fueling decades of warming and acidification. Earth is now on track to undergo its largest die-off in nearly 250 million years, which is certain to have cascading, irreversible effects on humankind and all living things. The high seas — areas beyond national jurisdiction — encompass a staggering 64% of the ocean and nearly half of the Earth’s total surface. They are home to countless vital ecosystems, and store more carbon than any other natural carbon sink, regulating the climate and keeping our planet habitable.
Running Tide believes that we have the responsibility — and ability — to act now to protect and restore the health of our oceans. While the agreement of the UN High Seas Treaty is a critical step towards scaling conservation, it will likely take many years to be ratified and fully implemented on a global scale. Years that human beings, our ocean, and our planet simply don’t have. That’s why alongside supporting this vital Treaty, Running Tide is developing the capabilities to diagnose ocean health through indicators that include ocean temperature, acidity, and nitrogen concentration, among others. This data enables us to develop and deploy positive ocean health interventions in concert with our scientific partners, with the urgency and investment that marine and human ecosystems require to survive and thrive.
Running Tide also applauds and shares the Treaty’s commitment to utilizing environmental impact assessments (EIAs) and best available science to assess key ocean health indicators and intervention impacts. Putting this into practice in our own operations, Running Tide conducts proactive environmental impact assessments prior to all planned research, one of which is being reviewed by Deloitte for our initial operations in Iceland. Similarly, Running Tide shares all research plans with an independent Scientific Advisory Board convened by Ocean Visions, which guides the development of our work and enables a direct mechanism for collaboration and oversight from leaders in the scientific community.
Running Tide is also fully committed to providing transparency into our processes for quantifying net carbon removed, assessing its permanence and additionality, the application of the best available science, and a comprehensive consideration of environmental and ecological impacts associated with deploying our carbon removal systems. Our initial quantification protocol is currently completing a peer review process, where it has garnered feedback from experts in the carbon removal, oceanographic, and climate spheres, and will also be reviewed by Deloitte against ISO Standards. These partnerships and principles can serve to provide a framework for responsible action in the high seas and the verification of ocean health interventions while setting a high standard of transparency worldwide.
Protecting, conserving, and restoring ocean health will require global collaboration on a scale yet unseen — but if the UN High Seas Treaty is effectively implemented and built upon, a healthy future may be in sight for the ocean and for us all.