EU welcomes progress on new instrument to conserve marine biodiversity

The international community has taken a first step in developing a legally-binding instrument for the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction.
Following two weeks of intensive negotiations, the first session of a United Nations preparatory committee tasked with elaborating this new instrument under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) has drawn to a successful close. Participants included representatives from most countries and regions, including the EU, as well as intergovernmental organisations, the business sector and civil society.
For the first time delegations discussed specific issues, including for example marine genetic resources, area-based management tools like marine protected areas, environmental impact assessments, capacity building and the transfer of marine technology.
Commissioner Karmenu Vella, responsible for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, remarked:
“The European Union has long championed the need for a new UNCLOS implementing agreement for biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction and was consequently a key player at this meeting. This agreement will represent a major step forward in enhancing international ocean governance, a key priority of my political mandate. It will implement and strengthen UNCLOS and overcome the current fragmentation of the legal order of the oceans. It should also contribute to a more sustainable use of our ocean resources, in line with the UN’s recently adopted 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. I congratulate all participants on this constructive first meeting and encourage them to continue down the path of compromise and cooperation in order to achieve a universal agreement that will deliver healthy and productive oceans for current and future generations. The European Commission will continue to support this process, which we hope will lead to a formal intergovernmental treaty conference in 2018.”
The committee will meet again for a two-week session in August, with two further sessions planned for 2017.
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