Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey

Kristina Maria Gjerde

Adjunct Professor

I am passionate about:   

I am passionate about applying law, science, technology and economics to find a new balance in how we manage the global ocean commons.

What excites me about being a professor at MIIS: 

What excites me about being a professor at MIIS is the opportunity to teach the next generation of ocean leaders based on my twenty+ years experience as a lawyer and an ocean advocate. I am attracted by the inter-disciplinary nature of the programs and the international outlook of the faculty and student body.

  • International marine environmental law and policy
  • Law of the sea
  • High seas governance 

Additional Areas of Focus

Marine science and policy, ecosystem-based management; marine protected areas; sustainable fisheries management; shipping; ocean geo-engineering; environmental impact assessments; marine migratory species conservation.

Recent Accomplishments

  • Helped to trigger the transformation of high seas Marine Protected Areas from a controversial concept to a practical tool. Since establishing a network of policy, scientific, management and legal experts through the IUCN and its World Commission on Protected Areas in 2003, eight high seas MPAs have been established: seven in the North-East Atlantic, one in the Southern Ocean, and more are under development.


  • In 2008, co-founded the Global Ocean Biodiversity Initiative together with the Government of Germany and scientists from the Census of Marine Life, Duke University Marine Geospatial Ecology Lab, UNEP-WCMC, the Marine Conservation Institute and others to advance the scientific basis for conserving biological diversity in the deep seas and open oceans. GOBI partners are now providing technical assistance to governments and the Secretariat Convention on Biological Diversity (with 193 countries as members) through a series of CBD-facilitated regional workshops.


  • In 2010 co-founded the Sargasso Sea Alliance, a partnership led by the Government of Bermuda to protect the Sargasso Sea, a vast gyre in the Atlantic Ocean. The Sargasso Sea Alliance works in collaboration with scientists, international marine conservation groups and private donors, who all share a vision of protecting the unique and vulnerable ocean ecosystem of the Sargasso Sea. It aims to mobilize support from a wide variety of national and international organizations and governments to ensure legal protection for this critical ecosystem and to provide insights for the establishment of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) on the high seas.


  • In early 2011, co-founded the High Seas Alliance a cooperative initiative of scientists and conservation organizations concerned with improving the management and conservation of high seas and seabed biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction. The High Seas Alliance played a major role in bringing high-level attention at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) to the importance of a new international agreement to safeguard the high seas.


  • In 2012, helped to secure the international recognition of marine “ecologically or biologically significant areas” by the Convention on Biological Diversity and the official transmission of these special areas to the United Nations and its Working Group on Biodiversity beyond National Jurisdiction as a demonstration of the compelling need for improving how we manage and protect the marine environment beyond national jurisdiction.



Gjerde, K.M. “The Environmental Provisions of the UN Law of the Sea Convention for the high seas and seabed Area beyond national jurisdiction” (2012) the International Journal of Marine and Coastal Law, special theme issue for the 30th anniversary of the Law of the Sea Convention.

Hastings J., et al. (2012). “Safeguarding the blue planet: Six strategies for accelerating ocean protection” 18 Parks Magazine 1-13.

Gjerde K. M. and Rulska-Domino A., (2012). “Marine Protected Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction: Some Practical Perspectives for Moving Ahead”, 27 International Journal of Marine and Coastal Law, 351-273. http://booksandjournals.brillonline.com.

Gjerde, K.M., (2011). High Seas Fisheries Governance: Prospects and Challenges, in The World Ocean in Globalisation: Challenges and Responses, (Vidas, D. and Schei, P.J. eds.) Fridtjof Nansen Institute, Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, pp. 221-232

Previous Work

Kristina M Gjerde is presently Senior High Seas Advisor to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Global Marine and Polar Programme. At IUCN she fosters international efforts to improve the conservation and management of the high seas and deep seabed beyond national jurisdiction. She serves as an advisor to governments, international organizations and non-governmental organizations and publishes widely on fisheries, shipping, law of the sea and marine conservation.

Kristina initially specialized in admiralty law at the New York City law firm of Lord, Day & Lord. She later served as a research fellow at the Marine Policy Center of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and research fellow/guest lecturer at the University of Hull Law School (UK), and represented WWF at the International Maritime Organization in London. In 2003, she was awarded a three-year Pew Fellowship in Marine Conservation to support her work on high seas governance.


New York University School of Law, Juris Doctor, 1984

University of California at Los Angeles, Bachelor of Arts in History (summa cum laude), 1981

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