UN treaty: hope for the oceans?

After 15 years of negotiations, the UN has agreed on protective measures for the world's oceans. Under the High Seas Treaty at least 30 percent of the world's ocean is to be put under protection by the end of the decade. Biodiversity in the high seas - in areas beyond state jurisdiction - is to be preserved by means of internationally binding measures. Commentators wonder whether this will be enough.

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Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (DE) /

An important treaty that will be hard to implement

Preserving biodiversity in the high seas will not be an easy task, fears the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung:

“There is neither an international high seas protection authority nor are there any rules to protect biodiversity. Nor is it clear how the treasures of the high seas, which belong equally to all nations, can be protected in such a way that all nations also benefit equally from them. Experts will have to find answers to these questions in the years and decades to come. For now, however, the global community can rejoice - over an agreement that is as important for humanity as the Paris climate agreement.”

La Repubblica (IT) /


La Repubblica welcomes the results of the meeting:

“It has taken decades for humanity to decide to give back to the great blue that occupies two-thirds of the planet and helps us breathe and survive by absorbing 90 percent of the excess heat that we generate. After years of negotiations, UN member states finally reached a historic agreement in New York on the weekend: 30 percent of the high seas will be declared protected areas by 2030 to save ecosystems and preserve thousands of species that had no guarantee of survival before this.”

De Morgen (BE) /

Nature conservation unites

Despite many uncertainties about its ratification, the agreement is a positive sign, stresses De Morgen:

“This weekend's decision can be hailed as historic. This treaty will be the game-changer the ocean urgently needs,' said Fabienne McLellan of the NGO OceanCare. In a world that is more geopolitically divided than ever before, UN member states have once again managed to overcome their differences after the Montreal agreement and show that nature is something that ultimately unites them all. A sign of hope.”

La Stampa (IT) /

Stop eating fish

The agreement is completely inadequate, geologist Mario Tozzi rails in La Stampa:

“It lacks restrictions on fishing techniques, a commitment to recovering plastic and an appeal to consumers: we would never eat a lion or a wolf, but we'd eat a tuna or a swordfish. ... If the new agreement is not implemented and our eating habits don't change, we'll have to get used to eating plankton and jellyfish, because these are the only creatures that will be left in the sea. ... The realisation that we are depleting our planet's fish stocks at a rate of over a hundred million tonnes a year is by no means merely a side note. It means that we have reached one of the limits on human growth.”