A United Nations committee has started work on an international treaty that could protect everything from threatened leatherback sea turtles to deep sea corals thousands of years old in international waters.

A preparatory committee has begun working on what will eventually become a legally binding document under The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. It will govern the conservation and use of plants and animals in the 64 percent of the world's ocean waters that do not come under national jurisdictions.

The session, which started Monday, will take place at the U.N. over the next two weeks. The committee will present a report to the U.N. General Assembly by the end of 2017.