Recently, On World Oceans Day (June 8), the IUCN Chief Urged Countries to Strive for a High Seas Biodiversity Treaty.

More on the News:

  • The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) urged the countries to accelerate efforts to ratify the High Seas Biodiversity Treaty, a critical international agreement designed to protect the vast and largely unregulated high seas.

High Seas Biodiversity Treaty 

  • It is formally known as the Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ) Agreement. It was adopted by governments in June 2023. 
  • The United Nations adopted this treaty under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
  • It is aimed at protecting marine life and ecosystems in areas beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJ).
  • Till now, 90 countries have signed the treaty. However, it will only come into force when at least 60 countries have both signed and ratified it. 
  • India has neither signed the treaty nor ratified it. 
  • As of now, only seven countries—Belize, Chile, Mauritius, the Federated States of Micronesia, Monaco, Palau, and the Seychelles—have completed this process. 
  • Focus: It protects and sustainably manages marine biodiversity in international waters, which cover nearly two-thirds of the world’s oceans.
  • Importance: These areas are largely unregulated and vulnerable to overfishing, deep-sea mining, and other activities that can harm marine life.


  • Establishing Marine Protected Areas (MPAs): Creation of MPAs in Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (ABNJ) to conserve marine biodiversity.
  • Regulating Activities: Oversight and regulation of activities such as fishing, shipping, and deep-sea mining to prevent environmental degradation.
  • Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs): Mandatory EIAs before authorizing activities to ensure environmental considerations are integrated into decision-making processes.
  • Fair and Equitable Benefit Sharing: Equitable distribution of benefits derived from the use of marine genetic resources, capacity building and the transfer of marine technology

High Seas 

  • The high seas are those areas of the world’s oceans that are outside national jurisdictions. 
  • They constitute a huge chunk of the world’s oceans and are home to a wide variety of biodiversity. Despite this, less than two per cent of the world’s high seas are protected by law.
  • Activities in the High Seas are governed by international law, specifically the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

UNCLOS guarantees certain freedoms for all nations on the High Seas, including:

  • Navigation – Freedom of navigation allows ships and aircraft to travel freely on the High Seas.
  • Fishing – Fishing is permitted, but regulations are increasingly being implemented to ensure sustainability.

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