UN “High Seas Treaty” – Looking at the Potential Implications on Ships

The United Nations “High Seas Treaty” is an international agreement aimed at regulating the use and exploitation of the world’s oceans beyond the limits of national jurisdiction. The treaty, first proposed in 2004, aims to provide a framework for the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in these areas and to prevent or mitigate the environmental damage caused by human activities.

The Marine Biodiversity of Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBJN) treaty’s text was finally agreed upon by delegates on 04 March 2023, following intense debate and discussion among various stakeholders, including governments, scientists, environmentalists, and the shipping industry. Subsequently, it has the potential to significantly impact the way ships operate on the high seas, which cover more than two-thirds of the world’s oceans.

Now that the UN High Seas Treaty text has been agreed upon, the focus will shift towards ratification and implementation of the treaty by member states. The next steps will involve the individual states ratifying the treaty through their domestic legislative processes. The treaty shall enter into force once a minimum of 60 states have completed this process. Once a treaty is ratified, the member states must then implement its provisions into their domestic legal systems, involving changes to existing laws, regulations, and policies. The process of ratification and implementation can take time, and the treaty’s success now depends on the commitment of the member states to adhere to its principles and comply with its provisions.

Under the treaty’s terms, ships will be required to adhere to stricter regulations when operating on the high seas. These regulations include provisions to prevent overfishing and to protect marine biodiversity. In addition, the treaty calls for creating marine protected areas and establishing measures to mitigate the impact of climate change on the high seas.

We will explore how the treaty could affect ships concerning ten key treaty provisions below.
Source: West of England

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