Indian team deliberating on ocean diversity pact

A delegation from India and other UN members are in New York to discuss a groundbreaking deal to protect marine biodiversity in the high seas, or the oceans outside of national territorial waters.

The agreement comes after the UN General Assembly passed a resolution in May, and it is anticipated to be the last in a line of agreements started in 2018 to establish a legally enforceable international accord under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Nearly 45% of the surface of the Earth is covered by the high seas.

Members of the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES), the Centre for Marine Fisheries and Research Institute, and the Ministry of External Affairs make up the Indian delegation.

Historically, gas hydrates, precious metals, and other fossil fuel resources have been the main targets of mining in the ocean. However, with advancements in biotechnology and genetic engineering, some businesses see possibilities in unusual microorganisms and other organisms that live in the deep ocean and might be exploited for medications, vaccines, and a range of commercial purposes. Many of these organisms are still unidentified.

He stated that early negotiations in the lead-up to the conference revealed that nations were likely to firm up a final agreement at the conference’s end on August 26 – a process that has been in the works for more than a decade.At the end of June, the Union Cabinet adopted a “Blue Economy” policy for India, a nearly 4,000-crore programme spanning over five years that will work on “bio-prospecting of deep-sea flora and fauna including microbes” in addition to developing a manned submersible vessel.

In a statement, Miguel de Serpa Soares, the conference’s secretary general and the UN’s legal counsel, stated that there was substantial evidence of rising strain on the world’s oceans. If left unchecked, their combined impact would set off a catastrophic cycle that would prevent the oceans from providing many functions that humans and other life depend on.

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