Nations fail to reach agreement on UN treaty to protect marine life

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THE UNITED NATIONS — Diplomats around the world have failed to agree on a United Nations treaty to protect marine life on the high seas, after a fifth round of talks ended in deadlock.

Negotiations at UN headquarters in New York were suspended early Saturday after two weeks of talks that environmentalists hoped would fill a gap in international marine protection measures.

A proposed treaty would set rules to protect biodiversity in the two-thirds of the world’s ocean areas that are beyond national jurisdiction.

Less than 1% of the high seas is protected without a new treaty, and “pockets of marine protection are not enough” for endangered species, said Maxine Burkett, U.S. Deputy Under Secretary of State who participated in the negotiations.

The global goal is to set aside 30% of the ocean area as some sort of marine sanctuary.

The health of the oceans is also key to combating climate change, as more than 90% of excess heat due to climate change is absorbed by the seas. Marine heat waves are becoming longer and more frequent.

“The ocean can’t afford to delay any longer,” Burkett said earlier in the week as negotiations looked promising.

In the Caribbean, “our livelihoods are directly dependent on the health of the ocean,” said Janine Felson, Belize’s Ambassador to the United Nations.

Discussions focused on how to share the benefits of marine life, establish protected areas, prevent damage from human activity on the high seas, and help poor countries acquire the skills and means. needed for ocean exploration.

Activists expressed disappointment at the failure to reach an agreement, but said the talks had produced progress.

Laura Meller, who heads Greenpeace’s Protect the Oceans campaign, accused wealthy countries like the United States of being too slow to compromise.

“Russia has also been a major stumbling block in the negotiations, refusing to engage in the treaty process itself or attempting to compromise with the European Union and many other states on a wide range of issues,” he said. Meller said.

Talks will resume next year unless an emergency special session is convened before the end of 2022.

US Under Secretary of State Monica Medina also expressed disappointment but expressed hope that the work done so far would continue. She said the United States remains committed to the goal of protecting at least 30% of the world’s oceans by 2030.

“We can’t let the tides and currents push us back. We have to keep going,” Medina said.

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