After a marathon 40-hour session, UN member states agreed on the text of the first international biodiversity agreement aimed at protecting marine life in open seas, according to negotiating groups in New York on Saturday.

The primary goal of the negotiations was to ensure that at least 30 percent of the world’s oceans are protected in the future. Under the agreement, procedures must be developed to monitor the environmental compatibility of economic projects, expeditions, and other activities carried out at sea. The aim of the agreement is to place the biological diversity of the open seas under internationally binding protection.

Two-thirds of the world’s oceans are open seas and are therefore largely unregulated. Negotiations on the protection of open seas have been ongoing for fifteen years.

Shortly before the breakthrough in New York on Saturday, participants at an international conference on oceans in Panama, including the United States and the European Union, agreed to provide nearly $20 billion to support the protection of the oceans. The US government alone has offered nearly $6 billion for 77 projects.