NEW YORK, 04 MAR – The member states of the United Nations have finally reached an agreement, after years of negotiations, to protect the High Seas, a fragile and vital treasure that covers almost half of the planet. “The ship has reached shore,” conference chair Rena Lee announced at the United Nations headquarters in New York shortly before 9:30 pm on Saturday local time (3:30 am on Sunday in Italy) to the applause of the delegates. The High Seas is the area of sea beyond the national Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) – more than 200 nautical miles from the coast, if states have declared the EEZ – and occupies about two-thirds of the ocean. This area is part of international waters, therefore outside national jurisdictions, where all states have the right to fish, sail and research, for example. At the same time, the High Seas play a vital role in supporting fishing activities, providing habitats for species crucial to the health of the planet and mitigating the impact of the climate crisis. So far, no government has taken responsibility for the protection and sustainable management of the resources of the High Seas, which makes these areas vulnerable. As a result, some of the planet’s most important ecosystems are at risk, resulting in the loss of biodiversity and habitats. According to estimates, between 10% and 15% of marine species are already at risk of extinction. (HANDLE).
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