140 nations support a high seas protection treaty

Sea Loch oceans

The world’s oceans are set for a long overdue boost in the coming days as the United Nations votes for the first time on a planned treaty to protect and regulate the high seas.

The waters outside national maritime boundaries – which cover half of the planet’s surface – are currently a free-for-all that has led to devastating overfishing and pollution.

But after more than five years of negotiations, UN members are poised to agree to draw up a new rulebook by 2020, which could establish conservation areas, catch quotas and scientific monitoring.

“This is the biggest opportunity to change the status quo we have ever had,” said Will McCallum, the head of oceans at Greenpeace. “It could change everything.”

A debate on whether to move ahead with a High Seas Treaty has been tabled before the end of the year at the UN headquarters in New York.

The motion is supported by 140 nations, which is more than the two-thirds needed for passage.

Only 3.5% of the world’s oceans are currently protected. The remainder is increasingly over-exploited and contaminated by pollution, fishing and seabed mining.

If the vote passes as expected, the UN will host four meetings over the next two years to draft the treaty. Ocean activists hope this will lift the subject to the same level as climate and land biodiversity and ultimately result in a legally binding set of regulations.

Read the full article at The Guardian.

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