UN high seas treaty is a triumph, but it will need teeth to be effective | Letter

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The water pact is bully quality (High seas treaty: historical woody to support planetary waters yet reached astatine UN, 5 March), promising to support biodiversity successful the precocious seas. It is simply a uncommon lawsuit of multilateralism successful this century. But euphoria should beryllium tempered by the realisation that giving it effectual teeth volition beryllium enormously challenging.

It promises to make a assemblage to negociate conservation and found marine protected areas successful the precocious seas, the 64% of oversea extracurricular nationalist exclusive economical zones. Those cheering the pact should callback that the past large multilateral agreement, the United Nations Convention connected the Law of the Sea (Unclos), reached successful 1982, acceptable up a assemblage to negociate the planetary seabed and found a benefit-sharing system.

That body, the International Seabed Authority, was not acceptable up until 1994, and, 28 years later, has inactive not established a mining codification oregon a sharing mechanism. It has besides been chronically underfunded, with its office successful Kingston harbour, Jamaica.

Second, a sticking constituent successful the negotiations of this caller pact was the sharing of benefits from “marine familial resources”. How that has been fixed is unclear. There volition surely beryllium trouble successful sharing the benefits of the much than 13,000 patents already filed, each giving monopolistic profits for 20 years. Will the statement use retrospectively?

Finally, we should conscionable retrieve that nationalist marine protected areas are seldom protected. In astir of Britain’s protected areas, industrial-scale bottommost trawling has been allowed, and the authorities adjacent blocked an amendment to its 2020 fisheries measure that would person banned it.
Guy Standing
Author, The Blue Commons: Rescuing the Economy of the Sea

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