The ocean is full of wonders. There are about 200,000 animal species swimming under the waves… that we know of. And experts think there are many more waiting to be discovered. Sadly, this underwater world is in danger. It faces problems such as warmer temperatures and . Experts want to help though. On March 4, leaders agreed on a . It aims to protect more than half of the ocean.
The United Nations is behind this agreement. The promise is called the High Seas Treaty. The deal will protect plants and animals in an area known as the “high seas.” Nations often control the world’s waters that are closest to their land. But the high seas are parts of the open ocean where all countries can fish, sail, and do research. Since no set group controls these areas, it can be hard to keep them clean.
Sea critters are in danger. The planet is experiencing warmer temperatures due to . This shift affects the seas. It can kill coral reefs, where many animals live. Many animals have also been overfished. Plastic pollution is another major issue. Fish, sea turtles, and other creatures can get tangled up in the plastic. They also may eat the trash, thinking it is food.
The High Seas Treaty aims to battle these growing troubles. It will create national parks called marine protected areas. Humans may not be able to fish in these areas. And workers will take action to control pollution. Shipping routes could also be limited in these spots.
The treaty will require countries to share resources from the sea. Those resources include plants and animals that can be used for food or medicine. Nations must share any sea discoveries they make as well. The High Seas Treaty isn’t in effect yet. Countries need to meet to decide whether or not to adopt the treaty.
Many experts are excited for the treaty. They include Rick Murray. He leads the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. “This new treaty is a landmark step in the protection of marine life,” Murray shared. “Without a doubt this is a major accomplishment,” he added.
Murray explained that the protections will affect a deep, dark part of the ocean called the twilight zone. Unique critters live in this important area. The twilight zone helps move a substance called carbon to the bottom of the ocean. This slows the effects of climate change. Protecting this spot is especially key.
Murray added another message about the new agreement. “This treaty offers hope that real protections against climate change and human activity are within reach for the ocean.”
Updated March 8, 2023, 5:02 P.M. (ET)
By Alexa Tirapelli