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Global Deals to Save Oceans Were In Reach. Then Covid-19 Hit

They are critical to stop overfishing and slow global warming. Now environmentalists fear the chance may be lost.

A Humpback whale jumps in the waters of the Pacific Ocean.
Photographer: Luis Robayo/AFP via Getty Images

Before 2020 became the year of Covid-19, it was set to be the “year of the oceans.” 

With only a small portion of them protected by law or agreement, expectations were high that bold steps to preserve biodiversity, rein in overfishing and bolster social responsibility were within reach. Then the coronavirus arrived, and high-profile meetings from the High Seas Treaty (the first global agreement to police and manage international waters) to the United Nations Climate Change Conference were postponed.