First round of UN negotiations to regulate high seas fishing concludes

Date: April 8, 2016

Source: Mongabay
Author: Alexandra Ossola

Representatives of more than 80 nations met at UN headquarters in New York City to begin hashing out a new treaty to govern “the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity” on the international waters of the high seas.

  • About 40 percent of commercial fish species spend time on the high seas, where they are caught with few limitations. Experts fear they are being severely depleted.
  • Today countries conclude the first round of negotiations at the United Nations in New York City toward a new treaty aimed at conserve biodiversity on the high seas.
  • The treaty is expected to be finalized by 2019, at the earliest.
If you go more than 200 miles off the coast anywhere on Earth, you end up in the high seas, the largely ungoverned portion of the ocean that covers 43 percent of the globe’s surface. In recent years, conservationists have been clammoring for more regulation, since about 40 percent of commercial fish species spend time on the high seas. Today, those fish are being caught there with few limits, and experts fear they being severely depleted.But that will likely soon change. The first round of negotiations towarda treaty to govern “the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity” on the high seas close today at the United Nations in New York City, illuminating a path towards regulating the vast tracts of ocean more clearly than ever before. Representatives of more than 80 nations are participating in the negotiations, which began on March 28 and are scheduled to end this evening.

“It’s taken about a decade of work by dedicated governments and the NGO community to get to this point, and we’re all quite happy to see this process moving to the next step,” Elizabeth Wilson, the director of international ocean policy at the nonprofit the Pew Charitable Trusts who is attending the negotiations in New York, told Mongabay. Pew has been involved in the lead up to the negotiations for the past few years.

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