High Seas Treaty Would Bring Needed Protection

Animation shows variety of life—and threats—to vast ocean area

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Far from every shore, beyond the jurisdiction of any country, lie the vast high seas, full of life and biodiversity. They cover nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of the world’s ocean and harbor life, ranging from whales, turtles, sharks, and dolphins to deep-sea corals, hydrothermal vents, and, experts believe, a variety of undiscovered sea life.

Today the high seas face increasing threats from human activities, including fishing, pollution, and seabed mining, but there is no comprehensive conservation mechanism in place to protect the biodiversity that thrives in these waters and maintain a healthy ocean.

That could soon change. From March 25 to April 5, governments will reconvene at United Nations headquarters in New York to continue negotiations on the first treaty to protect the high seas by 2020.