UN members are meeting in New York this week to forge a treaty to conserve marine life in international waters.
In December, countries set a goal of protecting 30 percent of land of sea, but two-thirds of ocean waters fall outside national borders. “We need a legally binding framework that can enable countries to work together to actually achieve these goals they’ve agreed to,” said Jessica Battle, an oceans expert at the World Wide Fund for Nature, told the Associated Press.
Countries will resume negotiations begun last August, with the aim of deciding for the first time how to designate new protected areas in international waters and determining how to regulate shipping, mining, deep-sea fishing, and other ocean-bound industries.
This patchwork of existing regulations “has proven to be ill-equipped to manage the cumulative impacts of human activities and climate stressors such as ocean warming, acidification, deoxygenation, and marine heatwaves,” ocean experts recently wrote in the journal npj Ocean Sustainability. An international agreement covering these issues should provide a “vital platform” for managing the world’s oceans, they said.