March 26, 2023

Nations agree to protect marine life on the high seas | world

A turtle swimming by an underwater coral reef in Australia – Photo: Sam McNeil, File/AP

After two weeks of negotiations in New York (USA), members of the United Nations approved a unified treaty to protect biodiversity in the high seas – almost half of the planet’s surface.

The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea has begun to meet 1994, before marine biodiversity was a well-established concept.

An updated framework for protecting marine life in areas beyond national boundary waters, known as the high seas, It has been under discussion for over 20 yearsAnd But previous efforts to reach an agreement have repeatedly stumbled. The unified treaty agreement was reached late Saturday.

“We really only have two great global commons – the atmosphere and the ocean,” said Rebecca Helm, a marine biologist at Georgetown University. While the oceans may attract less attention, “protecting this half of the Earth’s surface is critical to the health of our planet.”

Now that the long-awaited text of the treaty has been finalized, “This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to protect the oceans — a huge victory for biodiversity,” said Nicola Clark, an ocean expert at Pew Charitable Trusts who monitored the negotiations in New York.

The treaty would create a new ocean conservation management body and create marine protected areas on the high seas. Clark said this is critical to delivering on a recent promise by the United Nations Conference on Biological Diversity to protect 30% of the planet’s waters, as well as its lands, for conservation.

The treaty also sets the ground rules for conducting environmental impact assessments of commercial ocean activities.

“This means that all planned activities on the high seas need to be reviewed, although not all of them have been fully evaluated,” said Jessica Patel, WWF’s ocean management specialist.

many marine species – Including dolphins, whales, sea turtles and many fish – they make a long annual migration, crossing national borders and the high seas.. Efforts to protect them — and human societies that depend on fishing or marine-related tourism — have already been hampered by a bewildering array of laws.

A group of dolphins in Guanabara Bay in Rio de Janeiro – Photo: Silvia Izquierdo / AP