After years of meetings and discussions, on March 4, 2023, United Nations (UN) members finally reached an agreement on a unified treaty to protect marine life on high seas. The UNCLOS is in charge of countries’ rights to marine resources prepared in 1982. The Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ) Treaty, also known as the High Seas Treaty, proposes establishing Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in the high seas and establishing a new agency to oversee ocean life conservation. This deal will be a watershed moment for almost half of the planet’s surface, which has hitherto been interrupted and hampered by a tangle of restrictions.
According to maritime law, the high seas are those portions of the ocean over which no one nation has exclusive management responsibility. The high seas are not considered to constitute a state’s internal or territorial waters. It refers to maritime regions that are outside of the exclusive economic zones (EEZ) of coastal nations and extends from the deep bottom to the airspace above.
The continental shelves of coastal states’ EEZs extend 370 kilometres inland from the shore. The “high seas” make up 64% of the total ocean. The world’s high seas are among the most ecologically productive places on Earth. They are teamed with plankton and are home to ocean giants like sharks, whales, and predatory fish.
What Will Be The Significance of The Treaty?
International regulatory authorities have traditionally found it difficult to regulate marine species that migrate over state borders on the high seas. This treaty will help safeguard these marine animals and the people communities that rely on fishing or tourism related to marine life. This treaty will serve as a binding agreement between several regional treaties dealing with dangers and issues across species.
The unified treaty to protect marine life on high seas will also help in preserving coastal wildlife and the economy. It will make a significant contribution to addressing the triple global problems of climate change, biodiversity loss, and pollution. It will impose restrictions on the amount of fishing allowed as well as on other exploratory operations like deep sea mining.