Much of the ocean is unknown and unseen to human eyes with scientists estimating that just five per cent of it has been explored. It is truly staggering to then find out that 60 per cent of it is already showing signs of human impact, mostly driven by climate change.
Marine scientists, some of the world’s most intrepid explorers, have been among the loudest voices calling for protecting more marine life. Over the past five years, new technologies and methods have allowed scientists to explore new depths, discover new species, and learn more about the vital functions the ocean performs, and the extent to which these are threatened. The more they discover, the louder grow their calls for urgent action to protect the ocean.
This week at the UN in New York, the world will have the chance to do just that. I’m really excited to see formal negotiations beginning for a new high seas treaty – dubbed a ‘Paris Agreement for the ocean’. This single action will extend the rule of law and global governance to the two-thirds of the ocean, and the one half of the surface of the Earth, that remains exposed to unregulated exploitation. It is the first global ocean treaty focused on keeping life in the sea rather than how to take it out. With this treaty we can close the largest remaining gap in international environmental law and give the ocean and ourselves a fighting chance.
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Cover image from Ashlan & Philippe Cousteau