Historic global agreement reached on the high seas

  • Joint media release with:

The Hon Tanya Plibersek MP, Minister for the Environment and Water

An Australian-backed global treaty to conserve the world’s high seas and ensure they are used sustainably has been agreed to at the United Nations.

The Albanese Government is delivering on its commitment to see a Nature Positive Australia and a Nature Positive World.

The treaty builds on the Government’s work at the Montreal Biodiversity COP where Australia led negotiations for a high-ambition Global Biodiversity Framework – protecting 30 per cent of the oceans by 2030.

Australia’s leadership and cooperation with like-minded countries has seen the new Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdictions treaty (High Seas Treaty) agreed overnight.

The new treaty creates stronger protections for our oceans and increases opportunities for international collaboration, including on marine science and marine protected areas (MPAs) on the high seas.

The treaty:

  • creates a framework to establish Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) on the high seas,
  • puts in place a rigorous environmental impact assessment process to achieve nature positive outcomes,
  • ensures that the interests and contribution of Indigenous Peoples and local communities are recognised,
  • and puts in place a regime to regulate the use of marine genetic resources.

High seas make up 60 per cent of the Earth’s surface and there is a growing interest in using the marine resources found in them.

As a member of the High Ambition Coalition, Australia like many other countries, including Pacific Island countries, sought and achieved a highly ambitious treaty.

The formal adoption of the treaty text will take place in the coming months.

Quote attributable to the Minister for Foreign Affairs Senator the Hon Penny Wong:

“The new global oceans treaty is a remarkable milestone to protect the world’s oceans.

“This outcome is particularly significant for the Blue Pacific Continent – the basis of livelihoods and food security for many in the Pacific family.

“The Albanese Government is delivering on its election commitment to protect the world’s oceans.

“Australia’s support has also enabled Pacific participation in the historic negotiations.”

Quote attributable to the Minister for the Environment and Water the Hon Tanya Plibersek MP:

“The High Seas cover 60 per cent of the world’s surface. International cooperation to protect and manage them is vital. This treaty will give us a huge boost towards meeting our global biodiversity goal of protecting 30 per cent of our earth’s oceans.

“Australians know how important marine protected areas are in our own country – sanctuaries for marine life to grow and flourish. This treaty puts a framework in place to establish Marine Protected Areas in the high seas, leading to stronger protections for oceans around the world.

“Since coming to office the Albanese Government has been a leader on the world stage in ocean protection – from our role at the UN Oceans Conference last year to our strong leadership in seeing the high-ambition Global Biodiversity Framework signed in Montreal last December.

“Australia is proud to have joined with other nations in working tirelessly to achieve an ambitious oceans treaty. Our oceans need stronger environmental protections world-wide and this will help to deliver that.”

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