Nations attain accord to guard marine life on excessive seas

Nations attain accord to guard marine life on excessive seas

Nations attain accord to guard marine life on excessive seas

WASHINGTON (AP) — For the primary time, United Nations members have agreed on a unified treaty to guard biodiversity within the excessive seas — practically half the planet’s floor — concluding two weeks of talks in New York.

The U.N. Conference on the Regulation of the Sea got here into pressure in 1994, earlier than marine biodiversity was a well-established idea.

An up to date framework to guard marine life within the areas exterior nationwide boundary waters, generally known as the excessive seas, had been in discussions for greater than 20 years, however earlier efforts to succeed in an settlement had repeatedly stalled. The unified settlement treaty was reached late Saturday.

“We solely actually have two main international commons — the environment and the oceans,” mentioned Georgetown marine biologist Rebecca Helm. Whereas the oceans could draw much less consideration, “defending this half of earth’s floor is completely crucial to the well being of our planet.”

Now that long-awaited treaty textual content has been finalized, Nichola Clark, an oceans professional on the Pew Charitable Trusts who noticed the talks in New York, mentioned, “It is a as soon as in a era alternative to guard the oceans — a serious win for biodiversity.”

The treaty will create a brand new physique to handle conservation of ocean life and set up marine protected areas within the excessive seas. And Clark mentioned that is crucial to attain the U.N. Biodiversity Convention’s recent pledge to guard 30% of the planet’s waters, in addition to its land, for conservation.

The treaty additionally establishes floor guidelines for conducting environmental influence assessments for industrial actions within the oceans.

“It means all actions deliberate for the excessive seas must be checked out, although not all will undergo a full evaluation,” mentioned Jessica Battle, an oceans governance professional on the Worldwide Fund for Nature.

Many marine species — together with dolphins, whales, sea turtles and plenty of fish — make lengthy annual migrations, crossing nationwide borders and the excessive seas. Efforts to guard them — and human communities that depend on fishing or tourism associated to marine life — have beforehand been hampered by a complicated patchwork of legal guidelines.

“This treaty will assist to knit collectively the completely different regional treaties to have the ability to handle threats and issues throughout species’ ranges,” mentioned Battle.

That safety additionally helps coastal biodiversity and economies, mentioned Gladys Martínez de Lemos, govt director of the nonprofit Interamerican Affiliation for Environmental Protection specializing in environmental points throughout Latin America.

“Governments have taken an necessary step that strengthens the authorized safety of two-thirds of the ocean and with it marine biodiversity and the livelihoods of coastal communities,” she mentioned.

The query now’s how effectively the formidable treaty will likely be carried out.

The excessive seas have lengthy suffered exploitation on account of industrial fishing and mining, in addition to air pollution from chemical compounds and plastics. The brand new settlement is about “acknowledging that the ocean will not be a limitless useful resource, and it requires international cooperation to make use of the ocean sustainably,” mentioned Malin Pinsky, a biologist at Rutgers College.


Comply with Larson on Twitter at @larsonchristina and Whittle at @pxwhittle


The Related Press Well being and Science Division receives help from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Science and Instructional Media Group. The AP is solely answerable for all content material.

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