The United Nations on Monday adopted the first legally binding treaty to protect marine life in international waters
According to the United Nations press statement The Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction Treaty, or BBNJ also widely known as the High Seas Treaty which was approved by the 193 U.N. member states imposes rules aimed at protecting the environment and heading off disputes over natural resources, shipping and other matters in waters beyond any country’s national jurisdiction.”
The treaty will govern the high seas which have been marred by overfishing, oil exploration, and deep-sea mining.
Pacific Islands Forum Secretary General Henry Puna hailed the adoption of the treaty
“Today, we celebrate the momentous occasion of the adoption of the BBNJ instrument to conserve and sustainably use biodiversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction,” he said in a statement.
Puna said the adoption is reflective of the culmination of 8 years of OPOC engagement with regional stakeholders from the Pacific Ocean Alliance, including regional organizations, to support the negotiators.
He recalled that on May 2015, the first Pacific Ocean Alliance meeting was convened under the theme of “High Hopes for the High Seas”.
He recognized the leadership of the former Secretary General Dame Meg Taylor who initiated OPOC’s role as a coordinating regional entity to support negotiators during the BBNJ process.
“The takeaway from these 8 years is that when we are all working together to support the priorities set by our Countries, we can achieve great things. We commit to continue engaging hand in hand with our partners for the benefit of our Blue Pacific region.”
He said the Pacific has a special connection with the ocean
“By recognizing the special circumstances of SIDS, the treaty will ensure that our Pacific Island countries receive proper support in the implementation of the treaty.”
With the adoption of this new treaty, Puna said the PIF will continue to support the ongoing efforts of our regional leads on Oceans including the Pacific Community, Forum Fisheries Agency, and Regional Environment Program alongside the incoming Pacific Ocean Commissioner.