The deep sea, defined as those parts of the ocean below 200 meters, is increasingly the site of intensive resource exploitation for fish, minerals, and other uses, yet little thought has been given to effective governance by either scholars or policy-makers. This article provides an overview of existing deep-sea governance arrangements, as well as a description of the barriers to developing a more effective institutional framework, with particular focus on the unique status of the deep sea as part of the common heritage of mankind, the logistical challenges inherent in monitoring resource exploitation in the deep sea, and the lack of available scientific data. We call for greater engagement by political scientists and environmental studies scholars in addressing these challenges and protecting one of Earth’s last true frontiers.

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