United Nations, United States (AFP) -UN member states agreed Saturday to begin negotiations on a treaty to protect marine biodiversity in ocean areas extending beyond territorial waters, in a move heralded by environmental organizations.
The eventual UN treaty would be the first to specifically address protection of marine life, calling for the preservation of vast areas threatened by pollution, overfishing and global warming.
But the agreement was reached only after a small group of countries engaged in fishing and ocean mining blocked a more rapid timeline during the discussions between experts from the 193 member countries.
A majority of nations called for quick action but several countries such as the United States, Russia, Canada, Iceland and Japan expressed reluctance.
The treaty represents international zones that make up 64 percent of the world’s oceans or a total of 43 percent of Earth’s surface.
“This is the biggest biosphere on earth and there is no legal instrument in place to establish national parks at sea to protect marine life,” Karen Sack of the Pew Charitable Trusts told AFP.