World leaders from around the world have failed to agree on how to protect the world’s oceans and marine life.
Talks to pass the UN High Seas Treaty had been ongoing for two weeks in New York. However, governments could not agree on the terms.
The last international agreement on ocean protection was signed 40 years ago in 1982. It was called the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.
That agreement established an area called ‘international waters’. This is an area where all countries have a right to fish, ship, and do research.
International waters represent nearly two-thirds of the world’s oceans. However, only 1.2 percent of this area is protected.
It was hoped that High Seas Treaty would see an agreement from the 168 countries in attendance.
The negotiations focused on four key areas:
- Establishing marine protected areas
- Improving environmental impact assessments
- Providing finance and capacity building to developing countries
- Sharing of marine genetic resources – biological material from plants and animals in the ocean that can have benefits for society, such as pharmaceuticals, industrial processes, and food
More than 70 countries prior to the meeting had already agreed to put 30 percent of the world’s oceans into protected areas.