UN Reaches Historic Accord to Protect Ocean Life

Mar 6, 2023

7 Facts About the High Seas

Protecting the biodiversity of the high seas has long been a focus of the United Nations (UN). After 20 years of talks, the body has finally reached an agreement. 

UN member nations will work together to conserve 30% of all oceans for wildlife. That includes the high seas. The high seas are parts of the ocean that no nation controls. They are shared by all.

“For the first time, we are getting a(n) … agreement for the high seas, which until now have hardly been protected,” Germany's environment minister told The Associated Press (AP). “Protection of endangered species and habitats is now finally possible on more than 40% of the Earth’s surface.”

The treaty will set up a new council. The council oversees the efforts to conserve the oceans. It will also set rules for companies and countries that use the high seas. That includes shipping, undersea mining, and fishing companies. 

Under the treaty, dolphin, whale, and sea turtle migration paths will be protected. Scientists say that's one of the biggest impacts of the treaty.  Some migration paths can go for thousands of miles.

It's been hard to regulate the high seas in the past. They are covered with trade routes and unclear boundaries. Jessica Battle praised the UN’s effort. She is an expert at the Worldwide Fund for Nature.

"This treaty will help to knit together the different regional treaties to be able to address threats and concerns across species' ranges," she told the AP.

Which of the following details about the high seas is included in both the article and the infographic? (Common Core RI.5.7; RI.6.7)
a. The high seas cover nearly 2/3 of the ocean.
b. The high seas cover almost half the planet.
c. The high seas contain about 95% of the habitat occupied by life on Earth in all its forms.
d. 90% of the world’s trade is carried by sea.
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