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Marine Environment: Treaties

Question for Foreign and Commonwealth Office

UIN 54997, tabled on 4 June 2020

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what steps he is taking to ensure that a new UN high seas treaty to protect ocean biodiversity and conservation is negotiated in 2020.

Answered on

12 June 2020

The FCO and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs have been closely involved in the negotiation of a new Implementing Agreement under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction - the BBNJ Agreement - as an important step forward in addressing the challenges that the ocean faces. The UK is pressing for an ambitious Agreement. It will be a key mechanism in enabling the designation of at least 30 per cent of the global ocean as Marine Protected Areas by 2030.

Unfortunately, due to the impacts of the Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), the fourth session of the Inter-Governmental Conference, scheduled for 23 March to 3 April in New York, was postponed. The UK is supportive of re-scheduling the fourth session for the earliest possible opportunity that will enable all delegations to be present for the negotiations in New York. The UK also strongly supports intersessional work, which is vital to ensure that we maintain momentum towards the successful conclusion of these important negotiations.