FIELD perspective on progress towards a new UN oceans agreement for high seas

 

 

Global map showing the distribution of major deep-sea fisheries on seamounts and ridges, including those in the high seas and in national waters. Photo: © Clark MR et al., 2007

A blog from Joy Hyvarinen of FIELD asks if the recent round of talks on a new UN oceans agreement really made progress. Countries agreed to aim for a new legally binding agreement, but for the time being only agreed to continue talks. However reaching a new agreement could take many more years. At the recent round of UN talks about a new agreement to protect the large areas of the oceans that are outside any country’s boundaries governments agreed  to aim for a new legally binding agreement under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (or UNCLOS).
Palitha Kohona, one of the co-chairs of the UN working group where the talks took place, pointed out in a recent article that the critical need for conservation and sustainable use of the vast and invaluable resource base of these ocean areas is now widely acknowledged. Whether the political will to conclude a new oceans treaty is really there is another question.
FIELD believes that a new legally binding agreement is needed urgently to protect marine biodiversity in ocean areas beyond national jurisdiction, and has identified five important criteria for a future agreement. The result of the latest round of talks in the UN working group on marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction is a step forward, but it is not a decisive breakthrough.Although countries agreed to aim for a new legally binding agreement – which some countries had been hesitant about – they have only agreed to continue to talk for the time being.
The continuing talks will take place in a preparatory committee which will start meeting in 2016.  The negotiations on a new oceans treaty will take place in a UN intergovernmental conference created for the purpose. At the UN, countries agreed that the negotiations on the new agreement will cover: conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction, including marine genetic resources and sharing of benefits; area-based management tools, including marine protected areas; environmental impact assessments; capacity building; and technology transfer.

Further information

Complete Field blog

http://www.field.org.uk/blog/2015/02/03/progress-towards-a-new-un-oceans-agreement

Marine Resources in High Seas Should be Shared Equitably by Dr. Palitha Kohona ,Co-Chair of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Biological Diversity Beyond Areas of National Jurisdiction (BBNJ).

http://www.ipsnews.net/2015/01/marine-resources-in-high-seas-should-be-shared-equitably/

FIELD, A new oceans agreement – five important criteria May 2014

http://www.field.org.uk/sites/field.org.uk/files/papers/FIELD%20Five%20Criteria%20Oceans%20Agreement%20May%202014.pdf

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