International Agreement on Marine Biodiversity

The world`s oceans are vast and diverse, covering more than 70% of the Earth`s surface. They are home to countless marine species and provide vital resources for human societies, from food to transportation. However, the oceans are also under threats from various human activities, including overfishing, pollution, and climate change. To address these challenges, the international community has been working towards an agreement on marine biodiversity.

The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) provides the legal framework for the use and conservation of ocean resources. However, UNCLOS only covers the activities that take place within national jurisdictional waters, which extend up to 200 nautical miles from the coast. Beyond this limit, the high seas, there is no comprehensive legal regime for the protection of marine biodiversity. Thus, there is a need for a new treaty that will fill in this gap and promote the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction.

The negotiations for such a treaty began in 2018 under the United Nations General Assembly`s auspices and involved the participation of governments, experts, and stakeholders from all regions of the world. The objective of the treaty is to establish a framework for the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in the high seas. The treaty will address various issues, including marine genetic resources, environmental impact assessments, area-based management tools, and capacity building and technology transfer.

One of the major challenges in the negotiations is to strike a balance between the interests of different stakeholders, including coastal states, fishing industries, and conservation groups. Coastal states are concerned about their sovereignty and control over marine resources, while fishing industries are worried about their livelihoods and access to fishing grounds. Conservation groups are advocating for stronger protections for marine biodiversity, including the establishment of marine protected areas and the regulation of deep-sea mining and bioprospecting.

The negotiations have made progress, but many issues remain unresolved. One of the contentious issues is the sharing of benefits from marine genetic resources, which are increasingly seen as a potential source of valuable pharmaceuticals and industrial products. Another issue is the scope of the treaty and its relationship with existing legal instruments, such as UNCLOS and the Convention on Biological Diversity.

Despite the challenges, it is crucial to reach an agreement on marine biodiversity, as the high seas are a critical part of the global ecosystem and provide a wide range of benefits for humanity. The new treaty will complement existing efforts to protect marine biodiversity in national waters and promote international cooperation for the conservation and sustainable use of ocean resources. By working together, the international community can ensure that the world`s oceans remain healthy and resilient for generations to come.