The UN Signs Its First “High Seas Treaty” To Protect Ocean Bodies

The UN inked the first-ever ‘High Seas Treaty’ to safeguard the world’s oceans outside the national boundaries and form almost two-thirds of the world’s oceans.

The treaty results from a decade of discussions on this grave environmental concern. The agreement was reportedly reached on Saturday evening after 38 hours of discussions at UN headquarters based in New York.

The earlier negotiations failed to conclude due to strong disagreements related to funding and fishing rights. The last international agreement on ocean protection was signed about 40 years ago in 1982 — the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

The UN Signs Its First “High Seas Treaty” To Protect Ocean Bodies
Image for representation purposes only

The UN High Seas Treaty currently brings 30% of the world’s oceans into the safeguarded domains, puts more money into marine conservation efforts, and sets new rules and regulations for mining at sea.

Previously these water bodies were open for fishing, shipping, and conducting research. Only about 1% of the waters, also known as high seas, were protected, which left the marine lives at increased risk of exploitation from threats, including climatic change, shipping traffic, and overfishing.

Per the red data book of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), nearly 10% of marine species were seen to be at risk of extinction. Besides, the IUCN estimates that climatic changes impact 41% of the threatened species.

The High Seas Treaty currently places 30% of the world’s international waters into protected areas (MPAs) by 2030.

The treaty aims at protecting against potential impacts such as deep-sea mining. This is the procedure of collecting minerals from the ocean’s bed. The treaty, among other things, envisions restricting how extensively fishing can be carried out on the high seas.

The International Seabed Authority that oversees licensing future activities in the seabed will be subject to stringent environmental regulations and oversights to ensure that they are executed sustainably and responsibly.

References: Washington Post, News On Air, NPR

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