Historic High Seas Treaty Agreed to Protect 30% of Oceans by 2030
After a decade of negotiations, nations have finally agreed on a historic treaty to protect the world’s oceans.
The High Seas Treaty, which aims to place 30% of the seas into protected areas by 2030, was reached following 38 hours of talks at UN headquarters in New York, the BBC reports. This treaty will help safeguard and recuperate marine nature, which has been at risk from climate change, overfishing, and shipping traffic.
The last international agreement on ocean protection was signed 40 years ago in 1982 – the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. This agreement established an area called the high seas, international waters where all countries have a right to fish, ship, and do research. However, only 1.2% of these waters are protected, CNN reports.
The High Seas Treaty will establish marine protected areas in these high seas, which will help achieve the global goal of protecting 30% of the world’s oceans – made at the UN biodiversity conference last year. The establishment of these zones will impose restrictions on fishing quotas, shipping routes, and exploratory operations such as deep-sea mining. Environmental organizations have expressed apprehension that mining activities could disrupt animal breeding habitats, generate noise pollution, and potentially be harmful to marine life.
The International Seabed Authority that oversees licensing has told the BBC that “any future activity in the deep seabed will be subject to strict environmental regulations and oversight to ensure that they are carried out sustainably and responsibly.” This is a positive step forward in ensuring that deep-sea mining activities are sustainable and do not harm marine life.
Marine genetic resources refer to the biological material found in plants and animals in the ocean that can be utilized for various societal benefits, including industrial processes, food, and pharmaceuticals. However, studies show that the exploration of these resources in the deep ocean is currently restricted to wealthier nations due to resource and funding availability. To ensure equal distribution of the benefits, poorer nations are also seeking access to these resources.
Laura Meller, an oceans campaigner for Greenpeace Nordic, was pleased to see countries “putting aside differences and delivering a treaty that will let us protect the oceans, build our resilience to climate change, and safeguard the lives and livelihoods of billions of people.”
This treaty is a historic day for conservation and a sign that, in a divided world, protecting nature and people can triumph over geopolitics. Although the treaty is a positive step forward in protecting the world’s oceans, countries will need to meet again to formally adopt the agreement and have a lot of work to do before the treaty can be implemented.
Liz Karan, director of Pews Trust ocean governance team, told the BBC: “It will take some time to take effect. Countries have to ratify it [legally adopt it] for it to enter force. Then there are a lot of institutional bodies like the Science and Technical Committee that have to get set up.”
The High Seas Treaty is a historic agreement that will help protect the world’s oceans and marine life. It is a positive step forward in achieving the global goal of protecting 30% of the world’s oceans and ensuring that deep-sea mining activities are carried out sustainably and responsibly.Whizzco