Wild Waters

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United Nations member countries failed to reach a global agreement to protect the world’s oceans and marine life in what would have been a landmark deal to address growing environmental and economic challenges, Agence France-Presse reported.

Since Aug. 15, nations have been negotiating a legally binding treaty that would tackle a number of issues hitting international waters – also known as the “high seas.”

International waters begin at the border of a country’s exclusive economic zone – which do not go beyond 200 nautical miles (or just over 230 miles) from its coast – and are under no state jurisdiction.

They make up approximately two-thirds of the world’s oceans.

The treaty failed because countries failed to agree on a number of items, including potential profit-sharing from the development of genetic resources in international waters, where pharmaceutical, chemical and cosmetic companies hope to find miracle drugs, products or cures.

A key issue was the creation of marine protected areas, which would limit the amount of fishing allowed, shipping lanes, and exploration activities such as deep-sea mining, the BBC explained.

Currently, slightly more than one percent of international waters are protected but many nations hope to cover 30 percent of the Earth’s oceans by 2030.

Environmental groups and advocates said the outcome of the session was a “missed opportunity,” warning that further delays could destroy the ocean.

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