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Negotiations halfway complete on UN high seas treaty, with far-reaching impacts for seafood industry by Aaron Orlowski August 09,2019   |  Source: SeafoodSource

Time is running out for the fishing and seafood industries to weigh in on a United Nations treaty that will govern fishing and other activities on the high seas.

The treaty is being developed as part of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and is formally known as the Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ) Agreement. It could raise costs for fishermen by adding administrative and reporting requirements for those who fish outside of countries’ national waters.

Several key provisions in the treaty would also affect where and how vessels fish on the high seas by setting up mechanisms to create area-based management tools, such as marine protected areas, and outlining when and where environmental impact assessments must be completed.

Negotiators from more than 200 countries have completed two of four negotiating sessions so far – the first in September last year and the second in March and April of this year. A third round will run from 19 to 30 August at the U.N. headquarters in New York, with a fourth and final round in early 2020. The draft text of the treaty was released earlier this summer.

So far, the fishing and seafood industries have not contributed substantially to the treaty negotiation process, according to Paul Holthus, founder


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