UN forges historic deal to protect ocean life: what researchers think
Recently the member countries of the United Nations (UN) have agreed on an agreement to protect marine life in the high seas.
- For the first time, UN member states have agreed on a unified treaty to protect biodiversity in the high seas.
- The present treaty has been negotiated under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) of 1982. UNCLOS regulates the rights of countries with respect to marine resources.
- The Convention on Biological Diversity Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ) is also known as the Convention on the High Seas.
- The BBNJ treaty will constitute a new body to manage the conservation of marine life. In addition, it will also set up Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in the open seas.
- It will set limits on the extent of fishing, exploration activities (such as deep-sea mining) in the high seas, etc.
Significance of treaty –
- This treaty will help in achieving the resolution of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity. Under this resolution, a commitment has been made to conserve at least 30 percent of the world’s land and oceans by 2030. This is called ’30×30 goal achievement’.
- The treaty imposes an obligation on countries to assess the environmental impact of proposed activities in the high seas.
- This treaty combines different regional treaties to address existing threats and related concerns to the endemic habitat of all species.
- The high seas begin at the boundary of countries’ exclusive economic zones (EEZ). A country’s EEZ is an area up to 370 km (200 nautical miles) from the coast.
- The open ocean covers more than 60 percent of the world’s oceans and about half of the Earth’s surface.
- Currently only 1% of the open ocean is protected.
- UNCLOS defines coastal and maritime boundaries to regulate seabed exploration not covered by territorial waters claims. It’s headquarter is located in Montego Bay, Jamaica.
- Members: 168 countries including India are party to this convention.
Definition of maritime boundaries –
- Territorial Sea: It is the sovereign territory of a country. Foreign civilian and military vessels are allowed to enter (Innocent Passage) under certain conditions.
- Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ): In this zone, a country has the sovereign right to explore and exploit marine resources, protect the marine environment, build artificial islands and structures, etc.
- Contiguous territory: In this, a country may impose controls necessary to prevent violations of its tariff, fiscal, immigration, or protection laws.
- High Seas: It includes the sea area outside the EEZ, territorial sea or internal waters of a country. No country has any exclusive right on this area.
Source – The Hindu