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

The U.N. Conference on the Legislation 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 world commons — the environment and the oceans,” stated 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 health of our planet.”

Now that long-awaited treaty textual content has been finalized, Nichola Clark, an oceans knowledgeable on the Pew Charitable Trusts who noticed the talks in New York, stated, “It is a as soon as in a era alternative to guard the oceans — a significant 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 stated that is crucial to realize the U.N. Biodiversity Convention’s current 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 affect assessments for business 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,” stated Jessica Battle, an oceans governance knowledgeable on the Worldwide Fund for Nature.

Many marine species — together with dolphins, whales, sea turtles and lots 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 totally different regional treaties to have the ability to deal with threats and issues throughout species’ ranges,” stated Battle.

That safety additionally helps coastal biodiversity and economies, stated 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 essential step that strengthens the authorized safety of two-thirds of the ocean and with it marine biodiversity and the livelihoods of coastal communities,” she stated.

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

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


Observe Larson on Twitter at @larsonchristina and Whittle at @pxwhittle


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

Source link