On March 4 2023, the 193 members of the United Nations reached a major milestone. They agreed on a treaty to manage and protect the high seas– the marine areas that lie outside the 200 mile Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) of coastal states. The high seas are an essential part of the global ecosystem. They cover 50 percent of the Earth’s surface, produce half the oxygen we breathe, provide a home to 95 percent of the planet’s biosphere, are a critical sink for carbon dioxide, and help regulate the Earth’s temperature.
Over the last past several decades marine fish stocks worldwide have been under intense threat. There have been many high sounding declarations and agreements to reduce catch effort, to use more environmentally friendly fishing gear, to prevent illegal fishing and to impose “closed seasons
” to allow stocks to recover.