July 15. 2024. 8:21

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EU Council supports ratification of UN agreement protecting oceans


Following validation by member states on Monday (17 June), the ‘High Seas Treaty’ strengthening the protection of oceans now has the full support of the EU, however many countries across the world still need to ratify it, before it can be applied in a year.

The EU countries agreed to ratify the agreement on the high seas, signed in June 2023 by the United Nations, aiming to protect international marine.

These areas, which cover 60% of the oceans, are under increasing pressure from pollution, overfishing, climate change, and biodiversity loss. At present, only 1% of international waters are protected.

Marine areas beyond national jurisdiction “provide humanity with invaluable ecological, economic, social, cultural, scientific and food benefits”, explained the European Commission in a press release sent out on Monday.

The treaty – also known as the Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ) agreement – provides for the creation of marine protected areas on the high seas, thus contributing to the objective of protecting at least 30% of the planet by 2030, as set out in the Green Pact for Europe.

Around fifty countries are waiting to sign

The text was signed in September by the president of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, the EU executive then presented a proposal in October to conclude the treaty. The European Parliament gave its final green light in April 2024, followed by the Council today.

“With the Council’s decision, the EU is now ready to ratify the High Seas Treaty”, stressed the Commission.

But before it can be fully globally applied, the agreement must be ratified by the national parliaments of 60 countries. Though 89 have signed it, only 7 have ratified it: Republic of Palau, Chile, Belize, Seychelles, Monaco, Mauritius, and France, the only European country.

EU member states have until the next United Nations Ocean Summit to complete their ratification process, to be held in Nice, June 2025, also to be co-organised with Costa Rica.

EU hails ‘historic moment’ as UN seals treaty to protect high seas

The European Commission on Sunday (5 March) hailed a first international treaty to protect the high seas agreed by UN member states as a “historic moment”.

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