Call Us Now

+91 9606900005 / 04

For Enquiry

A Global Ocean Treaty Benefits Everyone


It was recently decided in New York to ratify the UN High Seas Treaty, which will aim to protect 30% of international waters by 2030.


GS Paper-3: Economic Development, Biodiversity, and Environment.

Mains Question

Talk about how human activity affects ocean biodiversity and what can be done to preserve and restore it. (150 Words)

Key Highlights

  • The world’s oceans cover 71% of our planet’s surface and serve as the earth’s largest carbon sink.
  • By absorbing 93% of the heat trapped by greenhouse gases and roughly 30% of the CO2 released by burning fossil fuels, they reduce climate change.
  • Three billion people also rely on its ecosystems for their food security and financial stability.
  • Currently, less than 7% of the ocean is under protection, and the high seas, which make up 95% of the habitable space on Earth and two-thirds of the world’s oceans by volume, are largely lawless.
  • The Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction treaty, also known as the high seas accord, designates 30 percent of the world’s oceans as protected areas.
  • This agreement ensures that benefits from the use of marine genetic material are shared and requires environmental impact assessments for new activities.
  • Additionally, it makes it easier to protect 30% of land and sea by 2030 by allowing countries to establish marine protected areas (MPAs) in the high seas.
  • A 2017 study showed that marine reserves in national waters have on average 670% more fish, as measured by biomass, than adjacent unprotected areas, demonstrating the effectiveness of MPAs in protecting marine life.
  • Flourishing populations of marine life in MPAs also spill over into fishing areas, resulting in increased catches for fishermen.

What Justifies Protecting the High Seas?

  1. The Ocean is BIG: o The high seas refer to the part of the ocean that is beyond any country’s jurisdiction.
  2. Biodiversity: The world’s oceans are among the last unspoiled areas left.
    1. They are home to a plethora of marine species, including some of our most recognisable and prized ones.
    2. They protect migratory paths and habitat that act as “rest stops” for whales, sharks, sea turtles, and seabirds.
  3. 3030: According to scientists, if we want to support robust marine ecosystems and biodiversity worldwide, we must conserve or protect at least 30% of the ocean by 2030.
    1. Although there are thousands of marine protected areas spread out across the globe, they only make up a small portion of the ocean.
  4. Less than 1% of the high seas are currently covered by marine protected areas.
  5. Climate Change: Protecting the high seas through marine protected areas is important for our climate as well as for biodiversity.
    1. The ocean is a key player in controlling our climate because it drives global weather patterns and absorbs excess heat and carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
    2. Ensuring that the ocean continues to play its crucial role in our climate system by supporting marine conservation and the preservation of blue carbon ecosystems.
  6. Reduction in Whale Population: Unlike animals on land, when a whale dies in the ocean, the carbon is pulled down to the depths, where it is stored.
    1. Whales also contribute to an increase in phytoplankton activity through a process known as the “whale pump,” in which they descend to feed and then resurface to breathe.
    2. Phytoplankton captures about 37 billion tonnes of CO2 a year and produces at least 50% of the oxygen in our atmosphere.
    3. Phytoplankton blooms follow whales wherever they go.
    4. Sadly, the great whale population has declined as a result of decades of industrial whaling, which has decreased phytoplankton activity.

How can ocean biodiversity be preserved and restored?

  • Creating protected areas: Setting aside portions of the ocean as marine protected areas can aid in defending delicate ecosystems and species against overfishing and other human activities.
  • Reducing plastic waste: Because marine species like turtles and seabirds can become entangled in plastic or mistake it for food, reducing plastic waste can help protect marine life from harm.
  • Cutting greenhouse gas emissions: Cutting greenhouse gas emissions can help lessen the effects of climate change on the oceans, such as ocean acidification and temperature increases.
  • Promoting sustainable fishing techniques: Supporting techniques like using fishing gear that reduces bycatch.


  • A major step forward in safeguarding the world’s oceans and biodiversity has been made with the new Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction treaty.
  • Because healthy oceans are essential to the carbon cycle and contribute significantly to biodiversity, marine protected areas have advantages beyond biodiversity that also contribute to climate change mitigation.
  • To ensure the treaty’s success, governments will need to remain committed and focused on implementing it.
  • In order to maintain the health of our planet and its ecosystems, nation-states must make protecting the high seas a top priority in the coming decades.


December 2023