As countries meet at UN Headquarters in New York this week for the final round of negotiations toward a possible treaty for the high seas, a new scientific review of recent ocean research has been launched to show the importance of ocean resources to humans. The report, authored by scholars at the University of Oxford for the High Seas Alliance, also recognizes the mounting evidence that some parts of the ocean are near their ecological tipping point due to climate change and other human impacts.

We need to act now to find all encompassing solutions to protect biodiversity on the high seas, said Sophie Mirgaux, senior international negotiator for the Department for the Marine Environment in the Belgium Ministry of Environment, speaking at a press conference at UN Headquarters on Tuesday.

Ocean biodiversity negotiations are not a zero-sum game, said Juan Jose Gomez Camacho, Permanent Representative of Mexico to the UN.

These negotiations impact the quality of life of all humanity, and the ocean has to be a source of wealth and knowledge for everyone, he said.

Plastic pollution is an increasing problem for the ocean, said Lucy Woodall, the report’s lead author.

“Plastics don’t go away, they just get smaller,” she said, adding that these plastic particles affect fish and phytoplankton.


Watch the full press conference here: