United Nations, April 17 (IANS) UN General Assembly President Miroslav Lajcak has said that multilateralism was crucial in solving challenges to the protection of marine biodiversity.

Member States should focus on reaching an internationally binding agreement to protect areas beyond national jurisdiction, Lajcak said on Monday at a three-day meeting on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity, which is aimed to find out a road map to implement such protection over the next two years.

There was a strong case to protect the oceans and biodiversity, he said, adding that the oceans and seas held plants and animals which could be used for medical purposes, Xinhua news agency reported.

Over three billion people are believed to be relying on oceans for their livelihoods.

The oceans, Miguel de Serpa Soares, UN under-secretary-general for legal affairs and secretary-general of the intergovernmental conference said, formed an integral and essential component of the earth's ecosystem and it is critical to sustain it.

Marine biodiversity produced a third of the oxygen that humans breathed and also moderated global climate conditions, while providing a valuable source of protein for human consumption, de Serpa Soares said.

The first World Ocean Assessment had indicated that the world's oceans were facing major pressures simultaneously, de Serpa Soares said.