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UN General Assembly adopts resolution to move forward with high seas treaty negotiations

26 / 12 / 2017, Mongabaycom News

The General Assembly of the United Nations adopted a resolution on Sunday to convene negotiations for an international treaty to protect the marine environments of the high seas. Vast areas of ocean that lie outside any country’s exclusive economic zone — or, in other words, more than 200 nautical miles or more from any country’s shores — the high seas are areas of Earth’s oceans that lie beyond all national jurisdiction. They represent about two-thirds of the oceans, but the high seas are not governed by any one international body or agency and there is currently no comprehensive management structure in place to protect the marine life that relies on them. According to the Pew Charitable Trusts, the treaty would be the first international agreement to address the impacts of human activities like fishing and shipping on the high seas. It would not only create a global system for coordinating the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity, but would also pave the way for the creation of marine protected areas (MPAs) and fully protected marine reserves in open waters. The UN reports reports that, as of 2017, 5.3 percent of the total global ocean area has been protected. That includes 13.2 percent of marine environments that fall under national jurisdiction, but just 0.25 percent of marine environments beyond national jurisdiction. Pew’s Liz Karan told Mongabay that high seas fisheries are estimated to account for up to $16 billion annually in gross catch, while estimates of the economic value of…

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