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New Ocean Treaty

SEA CHANGE Fish swim through a coral reef. Marine life will get new protections under a U.N. treaty. SAM MCNEIL—AP

On March 4, United Nations (U.N.) member countries agreed on a new treaty. It will protect marine life in the high seas. These are ocean waters outside of all national boundaries. The treaty will protect 30% of the world’s oceans. That’s nearly half of the planet’s surface. More money will go toward conservation of those areas.

The treaty is a “success for international marine protection,” says Steffi Lemke, Germany’s environmental minister.

For years, the high seas have suffered because of commercial fishing and mining. Chemicals and plastics pollute the water. All of these harm the animal species that migrate through the high seas. The treaty is meant to protect these animals. It also protects coastal biodiversity. Many economies depend on it.

Malin Pinsky is a biologist at Rutgers University. “The ocean is not a limitless resource,” he says, “and it requires global cooperation to use the ocean sustainably.”

Stop and Think! Why is international agreement necessary to the protect oceans? Which details in the article tell you why the U.N. treaty is important?