PH signs landmark UN oceans treaty protecting marine biodiversity

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 21) — The Philippines joined dozens of nations in signing a new oceans treaty under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) that seeks to protect marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction.

“Honored to sign today the historic agreement under [1982 UNCLOS] on the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Marine Biological Diversity of Areas beyond National Jurisdiction Agreement,” said Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo in a tweet on Wednesday.

Manalo was in New York City in the United States to represent the Philippines at the 78th UN General Assembly.

Almost 70 nations signed the Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ) treaty which highlighted the vulnerability of the high seas or the oceans when it comes to exploitation.

Currently, countries are free to navigate, fish and conduct scientific investigations with minimal restrictions compared to coastal seas.

The BBNJ applies to areas of oceans that lie outside any nation’s exclusive economic zone.

The treaty, which was adopted last June, also sought to address threats from pollution, climate change and overfishing.

“The new agreement provides, for the first time, a legal basis for the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in the high seas or areas that are beyond national jurisdiction,” said Leticia Carvalho, head of the Marine and Freshwater Branch of the United Nations Environment Programme, in a previous statement.

The agreement will enter into force 120 days after 60 countries ratify, approve or accede to it.

“For members to ratify the agreement, they must have national implementing legislation codifying it in-country. Once ratified and in force, this powerful new coordinating mechanism will establish new processes for conserving the marine environment, strengthening capacity building and technology transfer, and ensuring fair and equitable benefits to all parties,” she added.