BBNJ: Marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction


  • The United Nations is negotiating an international legally binding “instrument” to bring marine areas beyond national jurisdiction under common global management and monitoring.

About Marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ)

  • The fourth meeting of the Intergovernmental Conference (IGC-4) is underway in New York.
    • The IGC-4 is convening under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
    • And this particular meeting is to conclude a draft of the instrument on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction, also referred to as BBNJ.
  • BBNJ encompasses the high seas, beyond the exclusive economic zones or national waters of countries.
  • According to International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), these areas account for “almost half of the Earth’s surface.” These areas are hardly regulated and also least understood or explored for its biodiversity — only 1 per cent of these areas are under protection.
  • Getting hundreds of countries together to agree for a global regime — thus making it the planet’s one of the biggest common property resources — to enforce a conservation and equitable use treaty is a contentious affair.

    Photo : Wikimedia Commons, Sawfish
  • However, the high seas are extremely biodiverse and have been exploited without even knowing its impacts. While there are scientific explorations of the surface water of the high seas, the deep sea ie below 200 metres of the surface has hardly been studied.
  • The deep seafloors, believed to be the harshest habitat, the extinction process is setting in.
  • Research found that of the 184 species (of Molluscs) assessed, 62 per cent are listed as threatened: 39 are critically endangered, 32 are endangered and 43 are vulnerable.
  • In the Indian Ocean vents, 100 per cent molluscs are already listed as critically endangered.

Source: DTE

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