The ocean is crucial for life on earth, yet much of it lacks comprehensive environmental safeguards. Providing oxygen we breathe, food we eat, and performing important roles in planetary systems like moderating our climate, a lot is at stake when we risk the health of the ocean. Hearteningly, governments began formal negotiations this week to develop a treaty that will protect the high seas: an area the size of nearly half the planet.
On 24th December 2017, the United Nations General Assembly took the historic decision to open the negotiations of a treaty to protect biodiversity in the high seas (“Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdictions” or “BBNJ”). High seas represent two thirds of our oceans and are barely protected today.
A new international effort hopes to stem the tide of illegal and under-regulated fishing and otherwise protect the ocean from a range of threats, to benefit everyone. The nations of the world have launched a historic two-year process to create the first-ever international treaty to protect life in the high seas.
Peggy Kalas, Coordinator of the High Seas Alliance (HSA), focuses on the importance of preserving the biodiversity of the high seas, as well as combatting climate change, overfishing and plastic pollution.
States meeting at the United Nations in New York today took an important step towards launching negotiations for a new treaty to protect the biodiversity of the high seas (areas beyond the national jurisdiction). Making up two thirds of the global ocean, marine life in the high seas is not effectively protected. A new treaty will rectify this, putting in place measures to protect the rich and globally significant biodiversity and ecosystem services of the high seas and to govern activities undertaken there sustainably.
Findings support urgent need for heightened high seas governance and conservation
New York, Wednesday 11th July 1901hrs - As States meet at the United Nations for the final round of negotiations towards a possible high seas treaty, a new scientific review of recent ocean research shows more clearly than ever the importance of ocean services, its critical role to humankind and the rate and scale of the changes occurring due to climate change and other human impacts.
The first ever UN Ocean Conference came to a close on June 9 with a "Call For Action", over 1,300 voluntary commitments made to support ocean health, and aspirations for a new convention to protect biodiversity in the roughly half of our planet which lies beyond national jurisdictions.
One of the major issues arising from the Ocean Conference is the need for a treaty to protect the high seas covering half the planet. The momentum exists because States are returning to the UN next month for their final scheduled Preparatory Meeting, determining whether or not to open up formal negotiations through an Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) in 2018. The High Seas Alliance will be working at the PrepCom to try to ensure this happens.