Print Friendly, PDF & Email

How to save our high seas from overfishing and pollution?

GS Paper 3

Syllabus: Environment, Conservation


Source: IE

 Context: India urged the member nations of the United Nations Convention on the Law of Sea (UNCLOS) for the early conclusion of the International Legally Binding Instrument – Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ).

Threats to marine biodiversity:


Why is a global treaty essential for the conservation of the high seas?

  • While the high seas (beyond national jurisdiction) make up more than 60% of the world’s oceans, they have drawn far less attention than coastal waters.
  • Multiple organisations control fishing, shipping, tourism and ocean protection, however, their regulations apply to 200 nm (370 km) from the coast.
  • The entire sea industry is equivalent to 5% of the world’s GDP (~ $3 trillion) sustaining not just coast dwellers, but almost 3 billion people worldwide.
  • The oceans generate sustainable wave/tidal energy, as well as key for the production of some commodities/medicine.
    • For instance, a shallow water sponge called Tectitethya crypta (in the Caribbean waters) is used to fight leukaemia.
  • More than half of the total amount of oxygen is created by creatures in the ocean, which also stores 50 times more CO2 than found in the atmosphere.


How can we protect ocean ecosystems?

  • Preventing bad fishing practices and processing, and building sustainable sewage systems (80% of global wastewater is currently being diverted into oceans).
  • India’s approach to biodiversity management is congruent with three globally accepted principles: conservation, sustainable usage, and equitable benefit sharing.
  • India’s legislative frameworkthe Biodiversity Act 2002, Marine Protected Areas, Marine Genetic Resources, Environmental Impact Assessment – bears witness to these values.
  • According to the UNEP, international treaties are one of the best ways to stop the destruction of oceans.



  • The adoption of the BBNJ agreement is essential for the conservation and preservation of the oceans and their biodiversity, to ensure sustainable development.
  • For this, equitable benefit sharing, capacity building and transfer of marine technology should be at the core.
  • If nothing changes, half of all sea dwellers will be critically endangered by the end of this century (UNESCO).


To know about BBJN Click here: Treaty of the High Seas


Mains Links:

How does biodiversity vary in India? How is the Biological Diversity Act,2002 helpful in the conservation of flora and fauna? (UPSC 2018)


Prelims Links: (UPSC 2013)

Which one of the following is the correct sequence of ecosystems in the order of decreasing productivity?

    1. Oceans, lakes, grasslands, mangroves
    2. Mangroves, oceans, grasslands, lakes
    3. Mangroves, grasslands, lakes, oceans
    4. Oceans, mangroves, lakes, grasslands


Ans: 3