Ocean Treaty: After a Decade of Negotiations, a Historic Agreement is Achieved

After 10 years of negotiations, countries have reached a historic agreement to protect the world’s oceans. The High Seas Treaty aims to protect and restore sea areas by including 30% of the sea in protected areas by 2030. The agreement was reached at UN headquarters in New York late Saturday after 38 hours of talks.

Negotiations have been delayed for years due to disagreements over funding and fishing rights. The last international agreement to protect the oceans was the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea which was signed in 1982 or to be precise, 40 years ago.

Read also UN High Seas Treaty as a First Step to Protect the Sea

The treaty defines the so-called high seas areas – international waters where countries have rights to fish, ship and conduct research – but only 1.2% of these waters are protected. Marine life living outside these protected areas is threatened by climate change, overfishing and shipping traffic.

In detail: The strategy to safeguard the high seas According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, approximately 10% of marine species worldwide were deemed to be in danger of going extinct in the most recent study (IUCN). The amount of fishing allowed in these new protected zones, which were established by the treaty, as well as the paths of shipping channels and exploration activities like deep sea mining (the removal of minerals from a sea bed 200 meters or deeper), will be restricted.

Environmental organizations have expressed worry that mining operations would contaminate marine life, upset animal mating grounds, and produce noise pollution. In the future, “all activity in the deep seabed will be subject to severe environmental laws and oversight to ensure that it is carried out sustainably and responsibly,” the International Seabed Authority, which regulates licensing.

Source: BBC Climate


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