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Seven Pacific island nations sign ocean protection treaty

FSM President Wesley M. Simina signs the UN Treaty of the High Seas. Photo courtesy of FSM Mission UN

By Pacific Island Times News Staff

Federated States of Micronesia has signed the Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction Agreement in New York, making the FSM the first nation to commit to the treaty.

Adopted earlier this year after 15 years of negotiations, six other Pacific countries-- Fiji, Palau, the Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu-- have followed FSM to sign the treaty, which seeks to protect the ocean, promote equity and fairness, tackle environmental degradation, fight climate change, and prevent biodiversity loss in the high seas.

According to the FSM government, the treaty known as “BBNJ Agreement" is binding instrument under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction.

According to the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Program or SPREP, the treaty covers, among other things, access and use of marine genetic resources and related digital sequencing information, as well as fair and equitable sharing.


The Pacific country leaders signed the treaty on the margins of the 78th Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. The seven Pacific countries, which are members of SPREP, became the first to sign up to the new Agreement under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea on the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Marine Biological Diversity of Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction, according to a press release from SPREP. “We congratulate and commend our Member countries for their leadership in signing the Agreement, helping to ensure that our Pacific ocean and its resources are protected and better managed for present and future generations,” said Sefanaia Nawadra, director general of SPREP.


Nawadra said SPREP is committed to working with members countries to protect the Pacific Ocean, which is home to many of the world’s marine species and supports the unique Pacific Island ecosystems with its diverse coral reefs and the deepest oceanic trenches.

Nawadra said the agreement will help protect not only the Pacific Ocean but all of the world’s oceans from threats such as overfishing, ocean acidification, and marine plastic pollution.

SPREP said the treaty "envisages the use of area-based management tools to sustainably manage activities in specific parts of the high seas, and establish marine protected areas for long-term biodiversity conservation goals." "It also spells out environmental impact assessment obligations for planned activities in areas beyond national jurisdiction, which will allow identification and evaluation of potential impacts and inform decision making, management and mitigation of risks," SPREP said.

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