High seas uncertainty

High Seas

The newly-agreed UN High Seas Treaty could expedite ocean protection, but for the time being, international waters remain exposed

On 5 March 2023, after around 36 hours of intense negotiations in New York, a breakthrough deal to protect international waters and their marine life from a multitude of activities was agreed by close to 200 countries. A key measure within the United Nations’ High Seas Treaty is to provide a legal framework to put two-thirds of the ocean that lies outside national boundaries and jurisdiction into marine protected areas (MPAs), with the aim to help achieve the goal of protecting 30% of the world’s oceans by 2030. This was agreed at the 2022 UN biodiversity conference. Currently, just 1% of the high seas have protection in place, which makes them more at risk from such threats as climate change and overfishing.

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