States gather for UN conference to protect oceans

The High Seas Alliance will attend a UN conference to discuss protecting marine life The High Seas Alliance will attend a UN conference to discuss protecting marine life
Industry Database

States gathering at the United Nations (UN) in New York on 28 March will begin work towards an agreement to protect life in the ocean, closing some of the legal loopholes that remain.

The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) was negotiated more than 30 years ago but did not address marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction, leaving nearly two-thirds of the global ocean largely unprotected.

Veronica Frank, senior political advisor at Greenpeace International, said: “We now have the historical opportunity to change the way two thirds of our ocean are managed and develop a comprehensive global regime that will ensure the conservation of marine life for future generations.”

“People around the world will be watching this process closely and expect governments at the UN to make the right decisions for our ocean and for the lives of millions of people who depend upon it,” she added.

This two-week meeting of the agreement’s Preparatory Committee is the first of four that will take place before the end of 2017 at which states will determine the elements that will form the basis for a formal and final treaty negotiation to commence in 2018.

Key issues to be addressed include the scope of the treaty; how marine protected areas should be created and managed; the inclusion of environmental impact assessments and access to marine genetic resources and technology transfer.

The High Seas Alliance (HSA) has been campaigning for what will be the first ocean treaty focused on marine biodiversity, since it was founded in 2011.

HSA coordinator, Peggy Kalas, said: “The ocean is what makes our planet habitable. Ensuring its health and resilience is not a choice, but a necessity and this landmark marine biodiversity agreement is our chance to create real change as to how our shared ocean resources are protected.”

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