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It was late 1967 and the tranquillity of the sea was slowly being disrupted by technological breakthroughs, accelerating and multiplying uses, and a super-Power rivalry that stood poised to enter man's last preserve - the seabed.

It was a time that held both dangers and promises, risks and hopes.

On 1 November 1967, Malta's Ambassador to the United Nations, Arvid Pardo, asked the nations of the world to look around them and open their eyes to a looming conflict that could devastate the oceans, the lifeline of man's very survival.

In a speech to the United Nations General Assembly, he spoke of the super-Power rivalry that was spreading to the oceans, of the pollution that was poisoning the seas, of the conflicting legal claims and their implications for a stable order and of the rich potential that lay on the seabed.

There was growing concern over the toll taken on coastal fish stocks by long-distance fishing fleets and over the threat of pollution and wastes from transport ships and oil tankers carrying noxious cargoes that plied sea routes across the globe.