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Global Ocean Protection Treaty signed in New York

05.03.2023
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https://www.bbc.com/russian/news-64851948

The High Seas Treaty stipulates that by 2030, 30% of the world's oceans will become a protected area - this will allow the protection and restoration of marine flora and fauna. The agreement was reached on Friday evening after 38 hours of discussions at the UN Headquarters in New York. In total, the negotiations dragged on for more than 10 years, including disagreements over funding for the agreement and fishing rights.

The last international agreement on the protection of the ocean was signed 40 years ago, in 1982 - this is the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. It consolidated the principle of freedom of the high seas, according to which, in international waters, all countries have the right to engage in fishing, navigation and research activities. Now only 1.2% of the open sea is under protection.

Marine life outside of protected areas is affected by climate change, overfishing and heavy shipping. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, almost 10% of marine species are threatened with extinction.

In the new protected areas established in the treaty, restrictions on fishing, navigation and exploration will be introduced. We are talking about deep-sea mining, when metals and minerals are extracted from the seabed at a depth of 200 meters or more from the surface. Environmentalists have raised concerns that the mining process could damage marine breeding sites, create noise pollution, or be toxic to marine life.

The International Seabed Authority, which oversees licensing of deep-sea mining, told the BBC that "any future activity on the deep seabed will be subject to strict environmental regulations and oversight to ensure it is carried out responsibly."

One of the main issues during the discussion was the issue of sharing marine genetic resources. Marine genetic resources refers to biological material from plants and animals in the ocean that is of some value to humans, such as for use in industrial processes, food and medicine.

Wealthier countries now have the capacity and funding to explore the deep ocean, but poorer countries would like to see discovered resources shared equally. The problem is that now no one can estimate the cost of resources that can be mined in the ocean. Therefore, it is not clear how they can be separated.

 

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