Environmental Defense Fund to Explore the Treasures of the Ocean’s Twilight Zone at COP28

Panel will discuss emerging science and policy considerations for this critical ecosystem

December 7, 2023
Maddie Voorhees, (415) 293-6103, mvoorhees@edf.org

(DUBAI, UAE - Dec. 8, 2023) The ocean’s twilight zone is home to an astonishing array of biodiversity, including fish and invertebrates. In fact, it’s estimated to include up to 95 percent of the ocean’s biomass distributed over the global ocean, including waters in “Areas Beyond National Jurisdictions,” or the High Seas. Environmental Defense Fund is teaming up with the United Nations, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Scripps Institution, and other partners to better understand the status of and potential protection needs of a critical but poorly understood ocean resource.

Over the next two years Environmental Defense Fund and its partners will develop a better scientific understanding of the global seas and ocean resources that are critical for ecosystem function and carbon sequestration. Leveraging cutting-edge scientific research and novel policy development, these efforts will place the ocean at the center of global efforts to mitigate climate change and protect nature at an unprecedented scale. Notably, this will occur as global attention is shifting to ratification of the UN High Seas Treaty. EDF will lead an event at COP28 to focus on the latest science and policy considerations in this critical mesopelagic zone, which extends from 200 to 1,000 meters beneath the ocean’s surface.  

The species of the mesopelagic zone play a critical role in carbon sequestration — actively locking away millions of tons of carbon each year — and are potentially at risk for human exploitation. Therefore, the session will help ensure that we work at country-based and global scales to make the most of this vast resource, protecting climate and ecological benefits while human needs for nutrition and livelihoods increasingly look to these resources. We will also discuss the role of the High Seas Treaty in developing regulations, including protecting areas that help to conserve biodiversity in the mesopelagic zone.  

The event titled, “Valuing the treasures of the twilight zone: mesopelagic species and their delivery of biodiversity, climate, food and other services” will occur in the Oceans Pavilion on Dec. 8 at 2-3 p.m. GST and in the Nature Pavilion on Dec. 10 at 9-10 a.m. GST. Panelists include:  

  • Peter Thompson, Ambassador, UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Ocean 
  • Dr. Kilaparti Ramakrishna, Senior Advisor to the President and Director on Ocean and Climate Policy, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution 
  • Dr. Cymie R. Payne, Associate Professor in the Department of Human Ecology, Rutgers University and the School of Law - Camden 
  • Dr. Mariano Gutiérrez, Scientific Director, Humboldt Institute of Marine and Aquaculture Research 
  • Eric Schwaab, Senior Vice President, People and Nature, EDF (moderating the Oceans Pavilion event) 
  • Mark Moroge, Vice President, Natural Climate Solutions, EDF (moderating the Nature Pavilion event)   

These panels will complement and emphasize critical discussions happening at COP28 and calls by global leaders to unite and swiftly ratify the High Seas Treaty.

“We are at a pivotal moment where we need to expand and better coordinate research efforts to fully understand the benefits that mesopelagic species provide for climate and biodiversity, even as other competing ocean uses emerge,” says Schwaab.  

This event will be live-streamed from the Oceans Pavilion at youtube.com/@OceanPavilion. A recording of this event can also be viewed at this link.    

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One of the world’s leading international nonprofit organizations, Environmental Defense Fund (edf.org) creates transformational solutions to the most serious environmental problems. To do so, EDF links science, economics, law, and innovative private-sector partnerships. With more than 3 million members and offices in the United States, China, Mexico, Indonesia and the European Union, EDF’s scientists, economists, attorneys and policy experts are working in 28 countries to turn our solutions into action. Connect with us on Twitter @EnvDefenseFund