UN adopts "historic" high seas treaty to protect marine life
The United Nations adopted a landmark international treaty to govern the high seas on Monday after nearly two decades of negotiations.
Why it matters: The first-ever legally binding global agreement of its kind, known as the Treaty of the High Seas, provides framework for environmental protections to biodiversity in international waters — which cover over 60% of the Earth’s surface. Only 1.2% of the world's ocean areas are currently protected.
- The adoption of the agreement that's formally known as the Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction Treaty follows a commitment by UN member nations in December to protect 30% of the world's land and water by 2030 with the aim of halting and reversing the current extinction crisis.
What they're saying: UN Secretary-General António Guterres said Monday climate change "is heating our planet, disrupting weather patterns and ocean currents, and altering marine ecosystems and the species living there."
- He noted biodiversity "is under attack from overfishing, over-exploitation and ocean acidification" — with one third of fish stocks being harvested at unsustainable levels.
Meanwhile, "we are polluting our coastal waters with chemicals, plastics and human waste."
The bottom line: "The historic achievement we celebrate today is vital to address these threats, and ensure the sustainability of those areas not covered under national jurisdiction — over two thirds of the ocean," Guterres added.