UN adopts landmark high-seas treaty Ship’s crew

After nearly two decades of negotiations, the 193 UN member states have adopted a legally binding agreement on marine biodiversity, covering two-thirds of our planet’s oceans, aiming to drive a common wave of protection and sustainability on the high seas, transcending national borders trigger.

Known as the High Seas Treaty, the agreement aims to protect the marine environment, preserve the integrity of marine ecosystems and preserve marine biodiversity. It also addresses issues such as plastic pollution, overfishing and climate change, and recognizes the rights and traditional knowledge of indigenous peoples and local communities. The treaty also allows for the establishment of marine protected areas and takes into account the special circumstances faced by small island and landlocked developing countries.

What does the UN High Seas Biodiversity Treaty include?

The treaty is considered the most significant maritime agreement since the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) of 1982 and regulates activities in international waters, including seabed extraction. The agreement forms the core of the Convention on the Law of the Sea for the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Marine Biological Diversity in Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ Agreement).

The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) welcomed the historic adoption as it has represented the shipping industry in discussions since 2016. The adoption came after a major breakthrough in March, when nearly 200 nation states took part in the discussions and finalized the text of the treaty.

Emily Rowley, ICS Policy Manager (Legal), who has represented ICS at the United Nations in the BBNJ for over five years, called the launch a significant moment that should be celebrated.

“From a shipping industry perspective, the Deep Seas Treaty recognizes the role (of the International Maritime Organizations) and is intended to fill gaps in ocean governance,” Rowley said. “It will help ensure that the emerging high seas industries are as well regulated by the IMO as shipping is, with the details of any measures that ships may need to be discussed and agreed at the IMO.”

“Basically, the agreement should improve cooperation and coordination between UN agencies and other global and regional regulators of activities on the high seas. This will encourage a holistic approach to protecting marine biodiversity and ecosystems in areas where no state is responsible for their conservation,” added Rowley.

“It is important for shipping that the oceans are properly regulated and managed. “The BBNJ agreement is a significant step forward in ensuring that the oceans are used sustainably and preserved for present and future generations,” she said.

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