Published on: June 21, 2023

High Seas Treaty

High Seas Treaty

Why in news? The United Nations adopted the first-ever legally binding international treaty governing the high seas.


  • It is also known as the Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction Treaty, or BBNJ, but widely referred to as the High Seas Treaty
  • The measure approved by the 193 U.N. member states
  • It aimed at protecting the environment and heading off disputes over natural resources, shipping and other matters in waters beyond any country’s national jurisdiction.

What are the high sea ?

  • The high seas are defined as the waters that are 200 nautical miles from any national jurisdiction; they are international open waters that all countries can use for marine business such as shipping, fishing, and marine research.

What’s the point of a High Seas Treaty?

  • To reach universally agreed to the Global Biodiversity Framework’s target of protecting 30% of the planet’s land and sea by 2030
  • Roughly two thirds of the Earth’s oceans lie beyond national boundaries in an area known as the ‘high seas’, yet only about 1% of that largely unexplored expanse has been protected.
  • The only treaty that came close previously was the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea, which came into force three decades ago.

What’s in the treaty?

  • The treaty establishes a framework for “Marine Protected Areas” beyond the ones already within national territorial waters to counter biodiversity loss and degradation of ecosystems of the ocean
  • The treaty creates a Conference of Parties (COP) to monitor and enforce compliance with the treaty’s terms, that include a scientific advisory board.