UN High Seas Treaty

UN High Seas Treaty

News: Post a decade of negotiations, the UN members have agreed (in New York, US) on the first-ever treaty – the UN High Seas Treaty, to protect the world’s oceans outside national boundaries.

What is High Seas Treaty?
 “Treaty of the High Seas”, is an international agreement on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction within the framework of the UNCLOS.
 It places 30% of the world’s international waters into protected areas (MPAs) by 2030, and puts more money into marine conservation and new rules for mining at sea.
 It provides for arrangements for sharing marine genetic resources, such as biological material from plants and animals in the ocean and requirements for environmental assessments for deep sea activities like mining.
 The treaty can have benefits for society (pharmaceuticals and food) and will help reverse biodiversity losses and ensure sustainable development.

 2/3rd of the world’s oceans are currently considered international waters/high seas but until now only about 1% of these waters have been protected.
 Nearly 10% of marine species on the high seas were found to be at risk of extinction mainly due to overfishing and pollution.
 41% of the threatened species are also affected by climate change (more CO2 absorption, more acidic, increased marine heat waves), and deep sea mining.
 For example, Dugongs used to be common marine animals but now less than 1000 remain in the wild.

 There were debates, particularly around what a marine protected area (MPA) is – sustainable use/fully protected from fishing, shipping and exploration activities like deep-sea mining.
 Developing nations were disappointed by the limited funding options included in the text of the treaty.
 If the MPAs are not properly connected, it might not have the desired impact as many species are migratory.

Way Forward
 The treaty must be formally adopted and will enter “into force” once enough countries (~ 40) have signed and legally passed it in their own countries.

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