Long-awaited treaty agreed to protect the high seas

STORY: Negotiators from more than 100 countries completed a U.N. treaty late on Saturday (March 4) aimed at protecting the high seas.

It's a long-awaited step that environmental groups say will help reverse marine biodiversity loss.

Very little of the high seas, which are outside national jurisdictions, are subject to any protection.

Pollution, acidification and overfishing pose a growing threat.

The legally-binding pact, to conserve and ensure the sustainable use of ocean biodiversity, has been under discussion for 15 years.

This is U.N conference president Rena Lee after a marathon day of talks.

"The ship has reached the shore".

Economic interests had been a major sticking point throughout the latest round of negotiations.

Developing countries were calling for a greater share of the spoils from the "blue economy," including the transfer of technology.

The treaty is seen as a crucial component in global efforts to bring 30% of the world's land and sea under protection by the end of the decade.

Greenpeace says 4.2 million square miles of ocean needs to be put under protection every year until to meet the target, which is known as "30 by 30".

Laura Meller, a Greenpeace oceans campaigner who attended the talks, said countries need to formally adopt and ratify the treaty as quickly as possible to bring it into force "and then deliver the fully protected ocean sanctuaries our planet needs."