Fight still on for ocean protection

Negotiations on a UN Ocean Treaty have just concluded without an agreement, but momentum for action is building and the Green Party is calling on the Government to pull out all the stops to conclude talks before the end of the year. 

“It took until the final hours before countries started to show the sort of ambition needed to protect our precious oceans. Unfortunately it was too little too late, but we remain hopeful that world leaders will step up and do what is necessary to protect ocean health for future generations,” says the Green Party’s spokesperson for oceans and fisheries, Eugenie Sage. 

The fifth round of negotiations on a global oceans treaty have been taking place at the United Nations in New York all week. The talks concluded without an agreement that can deliver Marine Protected Areas across 30 percent of the oceans by 2030, despite significant progress being made during the last 48 hours.

“The ocean plays a vital role in regulating the health of our planet. It provides half of the oxygen we breathe, food for communities right across the world, and is home to some of the world’s most spectacular wildlife. 

“But for decades governments have been trading all of this away in the name of making a short-term profit. Destructive industries like mining and dirty fishing, climate change, and sediment pollution have been inflicting serious injury on our oceans. 

“As a member of the High Ambition Coalition, New Zealand promised to deliver a strong Global Ocean Treaty that can protect the high seas by the end of 2022. While it sounds like progress was made, particularly on the creation of new ocean sanctuaries, it came too late to get an agreement over the line. 

“We’re extremely disappointed that these most recent talks failed to deliver the treaty that our precious marine wildlife and billions of people around the world are depending on. However, there is some hope to be found in the fact that countries have agreed to come back together at some point in the future to try again. 

“If we’re going to get a treaty in place by the end of the year - as the High Ambition Coalition promised - then the New Zealand Government needs to stand with our Pacific neighbours and do everything it possibly can to make sure a Global Ocean Treaty is adopted. We call on the Prime Minister and the Minister of Foreign Affairs to contact their counterparts in other member states of the High Ambition Coalition to urge them to deliver on their commitment. 

“The Green Party is clear that to be a success, the Treaty must create a framework to put parts of the high seas into marine sanctuaries, so at least 30% of the world’s oceans are protected by 2030. These Marine Protected Areas must be established under the Treaty independent of the influence of industrial fishery interests.

“The window of opportunity to protect our oceans is closing fast, but there is still time. The fight for strong ocean protection continues,” says Eugenie Sage.

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