Greenpeace Aotearoa is urging the New Zealand government to back the strongest possible Global Oceans Treaty as the latest round of negotiations for the long-awaited treaty kick off in New York. 

UN member states are meeting this week to hammer out the details of the historic treaty which will govern the high seas. If done right, the treaty would provide the legal framework to create ocean sanctuaries in international waters, protecting swathes of the world’s oceans from destructive human practices including bottom trawling and seabed mining.

“This is an exciting and crucial moment in the history of ocean protection”, says Greenpeace Aotearoa campaigner Ellie Hooper.

“The future of the world’s oceans are being decided right now in New York and it is essential that New Zealand lands on the right side of history. We need our government to be bold and ambitious, backing a treaty that provides the strongest possible protection for our blue planet. 

“If done right, a strong treaty could provide the framework for protecting 30% of global oceans by 2030. Scientists tell us this is the absolute minimum needed for the ocean to recover. 

“We’re calling on the New Zealand government to back the right team to manage these global ocean sanctuaries – people with experience in ocean conservation – not fisheries management who have a dicey track record when it comes to ocean preservation.”

Governments have been discussing a Global Ocean Treaty for almost two decades and Hooper says now is the time for action.

“We can’t delay this any longer, the ocean depends on our action. Over 65,000 New Zealanders have signed a petition calling for a strong treaty, joining 5 million voices across the globe asking for the same thing. Let’s end ocean neglect and get this treaty done right to protect the ocean that connects and nourishes us.”

The talks, also known as Intergovernmental Conference 5 (IGC5), are the fifth and final round of negotiations to finalise a treaty. They began on Monday and will finish in New York on August 26.

To mark the start of the negotiations, Greenpeace US lit up the historic Brooklyn Bridge with a projection showing the beauty and fragility of the ocean and calling on government leaders to back a strong treaty.

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