International leaders will meet at the UN in New York for more discussions about preventing overexploitation of the oceans. Currently, two-thirds of the oceans on the planet are considered international waters, allowing all countries to visit, fish, and conduct research there without limitation. But only 1.2% of these “high seas” are actually protected. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has previously said that it is impossible to adequately protect the high seas due to the “traditional fragmented nature of ocean governance.” The agreement would lead to the creation of a network of marine protected areas.

The UN High Seas Treaty has been discussed for ten years, although it has not yet been confirmed. If it were to be approved, 30% of the oceans would be protected by 2030. As of March 2022, the International Seabed Authority, which is in charge of these operations, had awarded 31 contracts for deep-sea mineral exploration. Progress has been slow, though, as COVID-19 prevents nations from meeting. Disagreements over the details of the formal treaty also caused a delay. In an effort to establish the treaty, nations resolved in March to have a fifth and last session.