Improving protection of the oceans

Atlantic salmon

Atlantic salmon, © blickwinkel

15.08.2019 - Article

The oceans cover around 70 percent of the earth’s surface. They play a crucial role in regulating the global climate and safeguarding the food and income security of the world’s population.

However, overfishing, marine pollution and climate change are putting this unique habitat under increasing pressure. To date, special protection measures only apply to one percent of the high seas, which account for around two‑thirds of the oceans and lie outside states’ jurisdiction.

Germany supports an effective global agreement

Germany and the EU have been working for years in the United Nations for the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity in the high seas and the deep ocean floor, that is, in areas beyond national jurisdiction (Biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction, BBNJ). The aim is to conclude an effective new agreement under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. Following the initial two rounds of negotiations in the BBNJ intergovernmental conference, third and fourth sessions were planned for 19-30 August 2019 and the first half of 2020. The first discussions of the text of the agreement are to be concluded in 2020.

Wide-ranging protection for and sustainable use of biodiversity in the high seas

To date, the protection of the oceans’ biodiversity is only safeguarded by individual measures by a large number of actors such as the International Maritime Organization (IMO) or regional fisheries management organisations, all with limited competences. There is no globally binding framework to combine these individual measures and ensure cross-sectoral, globally binding protection of the oceans’ biodiversity and their sustainable use.

As far as Germany and the EU are concerned, the priorities for a new agreement are to set up cross‑sectoral and globally recognised marine protected areas, to include existing organisations’ competences and measures, and to foster international, regional and sectoral collaboration in marine conservation and marine scientific research.

The negotiation topics include wide‑ranging and complex fields such as area-based protective measures, environmental impact assessments, the use of marine genetic resources and capacity‑building. Preliminary talks and negotiations have been taking place under the auspices of the General Assembly of the United Nations since 2006.

Further information is available on the website of the United Nations.


Top of page