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As the world moves to protect oceans, we must also protect small-scale fishers IFAD News

It has taken almost 20 years, but finally, on 4 March 2023, UN member states came to an historic agreement: to legally protect the world’s high seas. In a first of its kind, the High Seas Treaty will place a third of the world’s oceans into marine protected areas (MPAs) in a bid to reverse biodiversity loss. The high seas—the parts of the ocean that lie outside a country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ)—cover about half the earth’s surface. They’re full of life—from microscopic plankton that produce more atmospheric oxygen than all of the world’s tropical rainforests, to blue whales, the largest creatures that ever existed on earth.

 

Figure: Trade starts early in the morning in a coastal community in the Philippines. © IFAD/Enrique Espejo Jr.

 

It has taken almost 20 years, but finally, on 4 March 2023, UN member states came to an historic agreement: to legally protect the world’s high seas. In a first of its kind, the High Seas Treaty will place a third of the world’s oceans into marine protected areas (MPAs) in a bid to reverse biodiversity loss.

 

The high seas—the parts of the ocean that lie outside a country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ)—cover about half the earth’s surface. They’re full of life—from microscopic plankton that produce more atmospheric oxygen than all of the world’s tropical rainforests, to blue whales, the largest creatures that ever existed on earth.

 

Yet, until this historic agreement, just 1 per cent of international waters were MPAs. Without restrictions on fishing, mining and shipping, ocean biodiversity will continue to be severely affected, while climate change further threatens marine life.

 

The treaty aims to achieve the following goals:

  • - Extend MPAs by 2030 to limit overfishing and biodiversity loss, and regulate shipping lanes.
  • - The sustainable and equitable sharing of marine genetic resources from plants and animals for consumption or medicinal purposes among countries.
  • - Assess deep-sea activities, including mining.

 

As hope for the future of sea life is renewed and the treaty is implemented, we must also ensure that small-scale fishers, whose livelihoods depend on the sea, are also protected.

 

See more https://www.ifad.org/en/web/latest/-/as-the-world-moves-to-protect-oceans-we-must-also-protect-small-scale-fishers

 

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