An initiative of Marine Conservation Institute

High Seas Protections

This project began as part of our work with the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition. We evaluated the levels of benthic (seafloor) protections for vulnerable marine ecosystems in the high seas under the various regional fisheries management organizations (RFMOs). You can learn more about the project this is based on, static maps, and the final report at the Marine Conservation Institute website.

Please give the viewer time to load if and try again later or contact us if you have trouble getting the map to load. Any questions or additional data can be sent to Thank you. 

For more information about the map and features, please visit the FAQs. Zoom in or out on the map to get layers to become viewable (if you don't see what you are looking for). Area and layer information gets more specific as you zoom in on the areas.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What layers are available to view?

They layer I want to view is "greyed out"?

"Greyed out" layers only appear at certain zooms, so zoom in or out to view.

How can I learn more about the layers?

There are pop-ups for most of the layers that provide further info and links about the data. Please let us know if we can provide more information.

How can I change the layers I'm seeing?

There is a layers button in tool bar that will allow you to click different layers on and off.

What is "fishable" depth?

The depth at which the ocean floor is deemed able to be fished, or "fishable." This depth is defined differently by each RFMO.



“Fishable” Depth


Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources



General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean



Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization



North-East Atlantic Fisheries Commission



North Pacific Fisheries Commission



South-East Atlantic Fisheries Organization



South Indian Ocean Fisheries Agreement



South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organization


What additional layers need to be added?

We are open to adding any additional layers that users would find useful.

What are the data sources?

  • Bathymetry - Becker, J. J., D. T. Sandwell, W. H. F. Smith, J. Braud, B. Binder, J. Depner, D. Fabre, J. Factor, S. Ingalls, S-H. Kim, R. Ladner, K. Marks, S. Nelson, A. Pharaoh, R. Trimmer, J. Von Rosenberg, G. Wallace, P. Weatherall. (2009) Global Bathymetry and Elevation Data at 30 Arc Seconds Resolution: SRTM30_PLUS, Marine Geodesy, 32:4, 355-371.
  • Seamounts - Yesson, C.; Clark, M.R.; Taylor, M.L.; Rogers, A.D. (2011) The global distribution of seamounts based on 30 arc seconds bathymetry data. Deep-Sea Res., Part 1, Oceanogr. Res. Pap. 58(4): 442-453.
  • Scleractinian sp. Predicted Coral Habitat - Davies, A and JM Guinotte. (2011) Global habitat suitability for framework-forming cold-water corals. PLoS ONE 6(4) e18483.
  • Octocorals Predicted Coral Habitat - Yesson, C., Taylor, M. L., Tittensor, D. P., Davies, A. J., Guinotte, J., Baco, A., Black, J., Hall‐Spencer, J.M. & Rogers, A. D. (2012) Global habitat suitability of cold‐water octocorals. Journal of Biogeography. 39 (7), 1278-1292.
  • RFMO Data - FAO VME Database and RFMO websites and reports
  • MEOW – Spalding, M. D. Fox, H. E. Allen, G. R. Davidson, N. Ferdana, Z. A. Finlayson, M. Halpern, B. S. Jorge, M. A. Lombana, A. Lourie, S. A., (2007). Marine Ecoregions of the World: A Bioregionalization of Coastal and Shelf Areas. Bioscience 2007, VOL 57; numb 7, pages 573-584.
  • LME –, 21 July 2016
  • GOODS – UNESCO, 2009. Global Open Oceans and Deep Seabed (GOODS) – Biogeographic Classification. (IOC Technical Series, 84.) Paris: UNESCO-IOC.
  • EBSAs - Dunn, D.C., J. Ardron, N. Bax, P. Bernal, J. Cleary, I. Cresswell, B. Donnelly, P. Dunstan, K.M. Gjerde, D. Johnson, K. Kaschner, B. Lascelles, J. Rice, H. von Nordheim, L. Wood, P. N. Halpin. (2014) The Convention on Biological Diversity’s Ecologically or Biologically Significant Areas: origins, development, and current status. Marine Policy 49:137-145.
  • Deep Sea Mining Areas - information available on International Seabed Authority (ISA). APEI directly from ISA website. Leasing areas digitized and generously provided by Deep Sea Mining Watch at UC Santa Barbara Benioff Ocean Initiative.
  • Active Submarine Hydrothermal Vent Fields - Beaulieu, S.E., 2015, InterRidge Global Database of Active Submarine Hydrothermal Vent Fields: prepared for InterRidge, Version 3.3. World Wide Web electronic publication. Version 3.4 accessed 2018-02-15,