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For Immediate Release

Contact

Tanya Brooks, Greenpeace USA Senior Communications Specialist, tbrooks@greenpeace.org 
James Hanson, Global Media Lead  james.hanson@greenpeace.org

Press Release

UN Conference is World's Last Chance for a Strong Global Oceans Treaty

WASHINGTON -

Today, delegates from around the world will begin the fifth and final round of negotiations for a Global Ocean Treaty at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City. After decades of human activity pushed the ocean to the brink of collapse, the outcome of this meeting represents the international community's last chance to achieve a meaningful global commitment to save them. 

If a strong Global Ocean Treaty is not finalized in New York, it will be essentially impossible to deliver 30x30 - at least 30% of the oceans protected by 2030. Scientists say this is the absolute minimum required to give the oceans space to recover. 49 countries have committed to delivering an ambitious Treaty in 2022

Arlo Hemphill, Greenpeace USA Sanctuaries Project Lead, said from New York: “As these delegates meet, the oceans continue to decline. Overfishing, destructive fishing practices, plastic pollution, and climate change are weakening the systems we depend upon. We can no longer afford the delay and inaction that have plagued these talks for over a decade. Now is the moment to set aside the politics, special interests, and inertia and approve a truly transformative Treaty that provides the strongest possible protection for the ocean. I urge these delegates to get this done – for every life on Earth.”

On the eve of the final round of negotiations for the Treaty, the iconic Brooklyn Bridge in New York was lit up overnight with massive projections showing the beauty and fragility of the oceans. The visual spectacle created by Greenpeace USA  featured marine life calling on humans to share the oceans with them responsibly and sustainably by finalizing a strong Treaty.  

Aakash Naik, Greenpeace International Head of Communications and Engagement for the Protect the Oceans campaign, said: “The oceans support all life on earth, but centuries of neglect have pushed them into crisis. The strength of the new Global Ocean Treaty will decide whether we can fix this crisis or if we will continue with the broken status quo. That’s why we’ve lit up the Brooklyn Bridge, turning this iconic New York spot into a monument to ocean beauty.”

Laura Meller of Greenpeace’s Protect the Oceans campaign said from New York: “These negotiations are a once-in-a-generation opportunity to protect the blue part of our blue planet. The oceans sustain all life on Earth, but for too long, we’ve neglected them. Delegates must finalize a strong Treaty this August. A weak Treaty, or any further delay, will maintain the broken status quo that has pushed the oceans into crisis.”

Awa Traore, Oceans Campaigner for Greenpeace Africa, said from New York: “Governments have been discussing a Treaty for two decades. In that time, the oceans have lost so much, and communities which rely on ocean resources are struggling. Here in West Africa, we've already seen fish stocks severely depleted by industrial fishing vessels, often from Europe, and this is already harming livelihoods and food security across the region. Any further delays would be a slap in the face to all who put faith in political leaders keeping their promises. Delegates must follow through on their governments’ commitments and finalize an ambitious Global Ocean Treaty now.”

In the two decades since a Treaty was first discussed, more than 100 marine species have become critically endangered. Industrial fishing pressure now covers at least 55% of the global oceans, and the climate crisis continues to damage the oceans’ ability to regulate our planet’s climate and temperature.  And just this month in Kingston, Jamaica, governments were negotiating rules that could allow the launch of deep sea mining by July 2023, contributing to the further degradation of the already stressed oceans.

To be considered a success, the meeting must deliver a Treaty that:

  • Sets as a primary objective the establishment of a global network of Marine Protected Areas.
  • Allows states, through a Conference of Parties (COP), to establish ocean sanctuaries, free from destructive activities like fishing and deep sea mining.
  • Allows the COP to make decisions by vote when a consensus is not possible.
  • Defines Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) to allow for the creation of fully and highly protected areas, which are most cost-effective.
  • Allows the COP to decide whether activities such as fishing are allowed or prohibited in MPAs, without deferring to existing bodies.
  • Allows the COP to adopt interim or emergency measures to protect an area pending the establishment of an MPA.

On Thursday, August 18, Greenpeace offices, frontline communities, artists, and activists will hold a rally outside UN headquarters to celebrate the world’s oceans and demand that world governments make history by protecting them. 

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Greenpeace is a global, independent campaigning organization that uses peaceful protest and creative communication to expose global environmental problems and promote solutions that are essential to a green and peaceful future.

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