We’re now just one week away from the final round of negotiations for a Global Ocean Treaty, taking place in New York from 7 March.

Actor Javier Bardem  is holding a small Protect the Oceans banner. Behind him on a big screen is#ProtectTheOceans with the Greenpeace logo
Actor Javier Bardem in Times Square

A strong Global Oceans treaty would allow for  the biggest network of protected oceans sanctuaries ever created – spanning 30% of the world’s oceans. The treaty would greatly improve the capacity of the ocean to respond to the impacts of climate change, sustain biodiversity and bring enormous benefits for coastal communities.

These negotiations are crucial for the fate of the oceans, and world leaders must show great ambition to prove they are serious about protecting them for the future.

With the negotiations so close, it makes me think back over the incredible actions that we’ve taken together building towards this moment.

We’re a small population at the bottom of the South Pacific – but we’re also members of an exciting and millions-strong international movement for ocean protection. 

Greenpeace supporters in Aotearoa such as yourself, and across the globe, have come together again and again to support the call for a strong treaty. A treaty that can protect a third of the world’s oceans by 2030.

Two Humpback whales viewed under the surface
Humpback whales, Tonga

In the last two years especially, our global network has stepped up to call on world governments to make protecting the oceans a reality, even while a pandemic has kept us physically apart. We’ve been rallying online, data gathering, telling our stories, lobbying, taking direct action, and much more!

Back in 2019 my colleague Jessica Desmond attended the third round of United Nations negotiations. She saw a lack of pace and ambition, without the level of urgency required to save the oceans.

In that year scientists and campaigners teamed up to launch the Greenpeace ships Esperanza and Arctic Sunrise on a ‘pole to pole’ scientific expedition. They took on the mission to visit key ocean areas at risk from human threats – places around the globe identified as in need of protection by the groundbreaking academic study 30×30: A Blueprint for Ocean Protection.

They traveled to the Arctic, to the Sargasso Sea, to the Amazon, and I joined them in their voyage to the Antarctic.

Ellie on a stony beach with ice covered hills behind her

In the Antarctic I followed the work of teams of scientists who surveyed penguin populations, tracked whales, took environmental DNA, microfibres and plankton samples; all to improve our understanding of this unique place. Scientists observed a 50% decline in chinstrap penguin populations on the Antarctic peninsula, a likely consequence of climate change.

An orange dinghy heads towards a fishing boat, towing a big buoy with the words OCEAN DESTROYER painted on it

Greenpeace activists took action on a refrigerated cargo vessel, the Taganrogsky Zaliv, that was carrying squid caught from an unregulated fishing zone in the South Atlantic Ocean. In the days prior to boarding, activists requested the ship leave Antarctic waters several times, and in a peaceful and safe protest delivered a buoy painted with the message “Ocean Destroyer”.

Persistently supporters such as yourself have alerted friends and colleagues, and raised your voices through emails, social media and video messages. 

Two street posters next to each other, the first a dark polluted ocean, the second a blue beautiful sea with sea life and a Greenpeace ship on the surface

We’ve taken your messages to the streets (and airport lounges) with giant billboards and posters. We told stories of the ocean, for example with a compelling animation highlighting the threat of extinction to turtle species. 

A scene from an animated movie shows worried turtles at the bottom of the sea

Two weeks ago we met the Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta to deliver our 60,000+ strong petition. With such visible public backing this also helps us push the delegation members to take a stronger position – at this upcoming fourth round of negotiations they must represent all of us.

Ellie handing a petition document to Minister Nania Mahuta and MPs Eugenie Sage and Golriz Ghahraman, while people wearing blue Protect the Ocean tshirts look on
Our petition delivery to Minister Nania Mahuta and MPs Eugenie Sage and Golriz Ghahraman

Almost 5 million people worldwide have signed our combined petitions so far building  pressure on our world leaders. Over 100 governments have now committed to the 30×30 goal for the oceans. It’s time for the  New Zealand delegation to do the same.

PETITION: Support the creation of global ocean sanctuaries Jacinda Ardern

From destructive fishing and mining, to climate change – the threats facing our oceans are growing greater by the day. We urgently need a network of ocean sanctuaries across the globe to protect them.

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