Protection of the marine environment
Conserving marine biodiversity
in The law of the sea
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The decline in marine biodiversity and the reasons for it were outlined at the beginning of chapter fifteen. This chapter is concerned with analysing, and assessing the effectiveness of, the large number of treaties and other measures adopted by the international community designed to conserve marine biodiversity. Some of these instruments focus on protecting habitats or conserving particular species, while others seek to do both by taking a more holistic approach. Among the latter examined in this chapter are the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (including the mining code for the Area being elaborated by the International Seabed Authority), the Convention on Biological Diversity and regional marine environmental treaties. The chapter also looks at the establishment of marine protected areas; other area-based measures, such as the International Maritime Organization’s particularly sensitive sea areas; and the ongoing UN negotiations to develop a legally binding instrument to conserve biodiversity (including marine genetic resources) in areas beyond national jurisdiction. The remainder of the chapter considers treaties to protect habitats (focusing on the Ramsar Wetlands Convention and the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)’s World Heritage Convention) and to conserve species, especially those concerned with migratory species, cetaceans, sharks and seabirds. The chapter concludes that while there have been some successes, international law has so far failed to conserve marine biodiversity adequately.

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