Who owns the seas? For 64 percent of the world's oceans—the amount that lies beyond national jurisdictions—the answer is no one. The high seas, as they're known, are like the planet's commons: since they don't really belong to anyone, no nation invests enough in offering them the protection they deserve, even though they constitute 45 percent of the planet's surface area. A coalition of NGOs, scientists, and activists called the TerraMar Project aims to reconfigure our relationship with the high seas by offering the opportunity to become a "citizen" of an imaginary aquatic nation.
Launched in July, the group has taken these unclaimed waters and christened them TerraMar, “the 8th Wonder of the World,” a nation that deserves care and attention. By metaphorically transforming these waters into a tangible country, the founders hope to draw attention and awareness to the world’s neglected ecosystems. Their first step in reaching their goal: Reaching one million active, informed citizens dedicated to fighting for the voiceless depths and the creatures living within them.
“45% of our planet is abused, overlooked & not preserved for future generations,” the founders write on their site. “Just because the high seas are out of sight does not mean they should be out of mind. The TerraMar Project's number one goal is to change attitudes and governance as it relates to the world’s largest ecosystem.”
The group is now offering passports—complete with unique numbers and a soon to come physical badge—for people to become citizens of the high seas, along with the chance to be “ambassador” for an underwater marine species of your choice. Composed of a mix of NGOs, members of the High Seas Alliance and The Deep Sea Conservation Coalition, and experts in ocean policy, marine science, and law, the TerraMar network aims to tackle issues plaguing all of our oceans today, not just the high seas, including deep seabed mining, noise pollution, overfishing, oil spills, and plastic pollution in the ever-growing Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
Stay tuned for additional features on The TerraMar Project site in the next few months, including options for citizens to sponsor ten acres of TerraMar, purchase a TerraMar flag to fly from a boat or home, or become an Ambassador by adopting a marine species. They’re also developing interactive maps to show migratory routes of marine creatures. Head over to TerraMar’s news aggregate, “The Daily Catch,” for all the news related to the seas and marine life—ranging from interesting facts about Blue Fin Tuna, interviews with artists to marine scientists, to reports on ocean warming. And apply for your free citizenship here.