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UN agreement on protecting marine biodiversity
After years of negotiations, the member states of the United Nations have finally reached an agreement on the conservation of biodiversity in the oceans. The High Seas Treaty must protect international waters, which make up about two thirds of the ocean surface.
Two thirds of the oceans lie outside countries’ exclusive economic zones and belong to the high seas. These are largely areas outside national jurisdiction. While the good health of marine ecosystems is critical to life on Earth, only 1% are currently protected. The agreement aims to change that and is seen as essential to achieving the goal agreed in December to protect 30% of the world’s land and sea by 2030.
In seven years’ time, 30% of that open sea must therefore be protected so that underwater life is preserved and can also recover. It is essential that fishing, shipping and deep-sea mining are restricted in these protected areas.
As experts have been saying for many years, sustainable management can transform the oceans into an inexhaustible source of food, energy and raw materials. The ‘historic treaty’ also contains agreements on comprehensive environmental impact assessments. This includes aspects from acidification to underwater noise to overfishing to pollution. The treaty will allow a single ecosystem approach to be taken that collectively covers all these issues.
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