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UN Adopts Treaty to Protect High Seas Marine Life

According to the Associated Press, in June the UN adopted a treaty to protech biodiversity in waters outside national boundaries, known as the high seas. It will be opened for signatures on September 20 and will take effect when it is ratified by 60 countries. The AP added:

“We only really have two major global commons — the atmosphere and the oceans,” said Georgetown marine biologist Rebecca Helm. While the oceans may draw less attention, “protecting this half of earth’s surface is absolutely critical to the health of our planet.”

Nichola Clark, an oceans expert at the Pew Charitable Trusts who observed the talks in New York, called the long-awaited treaty text “a once-in-a-generation opportunity to protect the oceans — a major win for biodiversity.”

The treaty will create a new body to manage conservation of ocean life and establish marine protected areas in the high seas. And Clark said that’s critical to achieve the U.N. Biodiversity Conference’s recent pledge to protect 30% of the planet’s waters, as well as its land, for conservation.

But Russia said it “distances itself from the consensus on the text of the agreement” which it called “unacceptable,” saying it “undermines the provisions of the most important acting international agreements, including the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea.”

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