Negotiations for a Global Ocean Treaty are on the brink of failure as UN member states near the end of a two week meeting to hammer out the details of the treaty that would govern the high seas.

Countries in the High Ambition Coalition and others like Canada and the United States have prioritised hypothetical future profits from Marine Genetic Resources over protecting the oceans. This is undermining progress made on Marine Protected Areas in the draft treaty text, and talks are now set to fail.

New Zealand, which is a member of the High Ambition Coalition,  has a delegation at the talks in New York and indications are that they are contributing positively to work towards a treaty.  

Greenpeace Aotearoa applauds the efforts of the New Zealand delegation and is calling on Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Minister of Foreign Affairs Nanaia Mahuta to use their influence to help persuade countries like Canada to get the treaty over the line in the limited time left. Talks are due to wrap Friday, New York time. 

Greenpeace oceans campaigner, Laura Meller, said from New York: “The oceans sustain all life on Earth, but the greed of a few countries means this round of talks for a UN Ocean Treaty are now set to fail. The High Ambition Coalition has utterly failed. They should be the No Ambition Coalition. They’ve obsessed over their hypothetical future profits, undermining all the other progress made at these talks. Unless Ministers urgently pick up the phone today to their counterparts and hammer out a deal, this Treaty process will fail.

“Less than two months ago I was in Lisbon, at the UN Ocean Conference, listening to these leaders promise they would deliver a strong Global Ocean Treaty this year. Now we are in New York and the leaders are nowhere to be found. They’ve broken their promises.”

To be a success the Treaty must put in place a framework that would allow vast swathes of the high seas to be put into sanctuaries, protecting 30% of the world’s oceans by 2030 – what scientists tell us is the bare minimum to preserve ocean health. These Marine Protected Areas must be governed by independent bodies with ocean conservation experience.  This is now at risk of failure.


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