International agreements and initiatives
Jon Nevill January 2006
The planet's nation-states have in some cases acted relatively quickly to implement parts of these agreements, especially where economic benefits to particular nations are in question. The establishment of 200 km Exclusive Economic Zones (under UNCLOS) is a good example. Some nations, such as Australia, have 'established' EEZs around their Antarctic 'territories' even though the validity of the territories themselves is not universally recognised - clearly an enthusiastic implementation of international law.
In other instances nations have been remarkably slow to implement important commitments. For example, commitments to protect representative examples of all major ecosystems date from 1972, yet Australia only moved to implement this commitment in relation to the marine environment in the early 1990s. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, often cited as a world leader in marine conservation, only commenced its Representative Area Program in 2002 - thirty years after the initial commitment. The situation regarding freshwater environments is even more extreme, with New Zealand so far the only nation to establish a systematic program to implement its commitment to protect representative freshwater ecosystems.
International commitments to the precautionary principle also date back at least to 1982; however, over two decades later, clear examples of its application to the protection of the marine environment are few.
The most important vehicles for
international programs and initiatives in regard to protection of the
marine environment are:
Large international Non-Government
Organisations (NGOs) - such as the World Conservation Union (IUCN) or
WWF-International - seek to influence these vehicles. Various global and
national agencies - such as the FAO - also seek to influence these
vehicles, along with international industry lobby groups and nation-state
IUCN (World Conservation Union)
5.22: Building a global system of marine and coastal protected area networks.
5.23: Protecting marine biodiversity and ecosystem processes through marine protected
areas beyond national jurisdiction.