UN member states on Saturday after years of negotiations agreed to a text on the first international treaty to protect the high seas, a fragile and vital treasure that covers nearly half the planet.
“The ship has reached the shore,” conference chair Rena Lee announced at the UN headquarters in New York shortly before 9:30pm, to loud and lengthy applause from delegates.
The exact wording of the text was not immediately released, but activists hailed it as a breakthrough for the protection of biodiversity after more than 15 years of discussions.
The treaty is seen as essential to conserving 30 percent of the world’s land and ocean by 2030, as agreed by world governments in a historic accord signed in Montreal in December last year.
“This is a historic day for conservation and a sign that in a divided world, protecting nature and people can triumph over geopolitics,” Greenpeace Nordic Polar adviser Laura Meller said.
European Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevicius yesterday called the treaty “a crucial step forward to preserve the marine life and biodiversity that are essential for us and the generations to come.”
Following two weeks of intense talks, including a marathon overnight session from Friday into Saturday, delegates finalized a text that cannot be significantly altered.
“There will be no reopening or discussions of substance,” Lee told negotiators.
The agreement is to be formally adopted once it has been vetted by lawyers and translated into the UN’s six official languages, said Lee, who is also the Singaporean ambassador for Oceans and Law of the Sea Issues.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres commended the delegates, a spokesperson said, adding that the agreement was a “victory for multilateralism and for global efforts to counter the destructive trends facing ocean health, now and for generations to come.”
The high seas begin at the border of countries’ exclusive economic zones, which extend up to 200 nautical miles (370km) from coastlines. They thus fall under the jurisdiction of no country.
Even though the high seas comprise more than 60 percent of the world’s oceans and nearly half the planet’s surface, they have long drawn far less attention than coastal waters and a few iconic species.
Ocean ecosystems create half the oxygen humans breathe and limit global warming by absorbing much of the carbon dioxide emitted by human activities, but they are threatened by climate change, pollution and overfishing. Only about 1 percent of the high seas are currently protected.
When the new treaty comes into force, it would allow the creation of marine protected areas in these international waters.
The treaty would also oblige countries to conduct environmental impact assessments of proposed activities on the high seas.
‘A DISASTER’: A successful Chinese attack on Taiwan would undermine the credibility of US security guarantees and could result in a global depression, three experts wrote A Chinese takeover of Taiwan would be a geopolitical catastrophe for the US and its allies, one that would overshadow almost all others over the next decade, US policy experts said. Andrew Erickson, a professor of strategy in the US Naval War College’s China Maritime Studies Institute; Gabriel Collins, a fellow at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy; and former US deputy national security adviser Matthew Pottinger issued the warning in an article published on Tuesday in Foreign Affairs. Bejing’s invasion or annexation of Taiwan “would be a disaster of utmost importance to the United States, and I am convinced that
Taiwanese businesspeople’s investments in China last year hit a record low of 11.4 percent of total foreign investment, the Mainland Affairs Council said yesterday. The number was a huge decline from 83.8 percent in 2010, mainly because Taiwanese businesspeople have been diversifying their investments globally over the past few years, with great success, the council said. From 1991 to last year, 45,523 Taiwanese investments in China totaling US$206.37 billion had been approved, accounting for 50.7 percent of overall foreign investment, data from the Ministry of Economic Affairs’ Investment Commission showed. The amount and proportion of Taiwanese investments in China has been declining, with
Taiwanese tourists on board a Kinmen cruise ship had a scare yesterday when it was intercepted by Chinese coast guards who forcefully boarded the vessel to inspect it. The Sunrise, a tourism ferry that operates between Kinmen and Xiamen, China, was sailing around the waters around the islets of Dadan (大膽) and Erdan (二膽) — both of which are part of Kinmen County — yesterday afternoon when it encountered personnel from China’s Fujian Coast Guard Bureau. China Coast Guard personnel forced their way on board and conducted an inspection for about 30 minutes before leaving, local media cited the tourists as saying. The
KINMEN: Coast guards on both sides of the Taiwan Strait should prohibit the entry of illegal vessels into ‘restricted’ waters to uphold maritime safety, Chen Chien-jen said Premier Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁) yesterday called for both sides of the Taiwan Strait to approach the security of Kinmen and Xiamen waters with rationality and equitability, following a boat chase that resulted in the death of two Chinese fishers last week. Chen was responding to media inquiries ahead of a legislative session amid rising cross-strait tensions following the capsizing of a Chinese speedboat off the east coast of Kinmen on Wednesday last week during a pursuit by the Taiwanese coast guard. The Ministry of National Defense established the boundaries of “prohibited” and “restricted” waters around Kinmen in 1992 to better protect