Governments advance new legally binding law of the sea agreement

The UN General Assembly (UNGA) last week adopted a formal resolution to develop a legally-binding treaty for the conservation of marine biodiversity on the ‘high seas’.

The new ocean regulations are proposed to include: area-based management tools, such as marine planning and marine protected areas; environmental impact assessment (EIA) requirements; the transfer of marine technology; and a regime for managing marine genetic resources, including benefit-sharing.

These developments have potentially significant implications for ocean economic activities, such as shipping, oil and gas, cruise tourism, fishing, marine mining, biotechnology, submarine cable, as well for related sectors, such as maritime law, insurance and investment.

Leadership companies concerned about the effects these new ocean laws will have on high seas operations are encouraged to participate in the Ocean Governance and Policy session at the Sustainable Ocean Summit (SOS), Singapore, 9-11 November 2015. The SOS 2105 provides a unique opportunity for ocean business representatives to plan for coordinated industry engagement in the development of this new ocean treaty as it is negotiated by governments over the next few years.

The UNGA resolution identifies “the need for the comprehensive global regime to better address the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction.” The resolution calls for a two-year preparatory process in 2016-2017 to develop the treaty elements.

Industry involvement in this stage of defining a new ocean treaty is critical to ensuring that these new regulations are developed with full and balanced information, are based on good science and risk assessment, are practical and implementable and engender the constructive engagement of the ocean business community.

For information on key ocean policy processes and developments, and the industry risks and opportunities associated with them, see the WOC report “International Ocean Governance: Policy Brief“.


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