Almost 200 countries working together to save our oceans by ratifying the High Seas Treaty

BOSTON — Almost 200 countries are coming together after nearly two decades of negotiations to ratify the High Seas Treaty. It’s legislation that will provide the framework to protect critical ocean habitats at a global level.

Sarah Reiter, the Director of Ocean Policy for the New England Aquarium, says that 95% of the earth’s habitat by volume exists on the high seas. That is the area beyond 200 nautical miles of the coastline.

The need to protect that biodiversity is greater than ever as threats like ocean warming, acidification, and deep sea mining, endanger it.

But how do we enforce these protections?

“It is uncharted territory for us to be doing something at this scale with this level of remoteness. But we do have a lot of examples that we can use from our own nation and from other nations on how to establish protected areas, on how to do environmental impact statements which are some of the tools that are established by this treaty,” says Reiter.

These statements, along with the legal creation of marine protected areas will allow enforcement and accountability with check-ups at an established conference of the parties where member nations will meet.

The goal is to protect 30% of the ocean’s biodiversity by 2030, and this is a big step toward achieving that goal.

Reiter says this is a sign of hope and unity. “There is this acknowledgment that this is a part of the earth that belongs to all of us so there’s a responsibility and an obligation to protect biodiversity for all nations.”

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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