15 julho 2021

Chile proposes Marine Protected Area amid discussions on BBNJ domains

News supervised by Fabiana Ventura Piassi.

In April, Chilean President Sebastián Piñera, at the virtual climate summit organized by the US government of Joe Biden, proposed the creation of a Marine Protected Area (MPA) on high sea in the Salas and Gomez Nazca mountain ranges, located in the southeastern Pacific[1]. The Chilean initiative comes amid discussions within the UN for a treaty for the conservation and sustainable use of Marine Biodiversity in Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ).

These mountain ranges are home to great marine biodiversity, and almost half of the species that live there are endemic, not living elsewhere. In those areas, there is great interest in fishing and mining exploration. The mountain ranges offer refuge for migratory species such as leatherback turtles and blue whales, which come to the area for breeding[2].

The idea of ​​the AMP highlighted the negotiations for the creation of a global treaty that addresses marine biodiversity, thus serving to establish a framework to conserve and manage the biodiversity of the high seas, which encompasses about two-thirds of the global ocean.

For Piñera, protecting Exclusive Economic Zones is not enough. When created, the area will be connected to the existing MPAs in the Chilean EEZ, from the east to the marine park of Nazca-Desventuradas and to the west to Easter Island (Rapa Nui). Currently, only about 1% of the high seas are protected by Marine Areas, most of it within the nearly 2 million square kilometers of Antarctica’s Ross Sea area[3].

Although there are treaties and conventions that deal with the high seas, most of them do not protect its waters and beings, which are home to a wide variety of ecosystems and species, many of them little studied or not registered[4]. Marine species and entire ecosystems can be lost before they are properly identified.

The current draft treaty being discussed at the United Nations deals with marine genetic resources; area-based management tools, including marine protected areas; environmental impact assessments and training and transfer of marine technology[5]. However, the coronavirus pandemic has delayed its negotiations.

Chile, in turn, is part of a group of 14 countries that have agreed to sustainably manage 100% of the oceans under their national jurisdictions by 2025, an area almost the size of the African continent. They hope to end overfishing and illegal fishing, re-establish depleted fish stocks, stop the flow of plastic waste to the seas, and clean up “dead zones” created by runoff from agricultural waste[6].

The country joined Australia, Canada, Ghana, Indonesia, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Namibia, Norway, Portugal, Fiji, Jamaica and Palau in drafting the agreement; valuing pragmatism to the participation of great powers such as the United States or China. In common, all the economies of these states are heavily dependent on the sea.

[1] Accessed in Jun 24, 2021.

[2] Accessed in Jun 25, 2021.

[3] Ibidem.

[4] Accessed in Jun 27, 2021.

[5] Ibidem.

[6],do%20tamanho%20do%20continente%20africano. Accessed in Jun 27, 2021.

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