No reason to deny it – making it official makes things a tad more real! Today the United Nations General Assembly formally decided to develop a High Seas Biodiversity Agreement, endorsing the breakthrough outcome of the UN biodiversity working group meeting in January.
Starting next year in March, countries will begin wrestling out the content of this new High Seas Treaty. A lot of heavy debate and controversy is expected. There are countries that realize that bold measures are needed to save the oceans and others who will do what they can to stall and weaken the outcome.
Greenpeace and millions of #OceanLovers across the world will be calling for the High Seas Biodiversity Agreement to establish the much needed global network of ocean sanctuaries on the high seas – 64% of the ocean that belong to you, me and everyone. The Agreement should also make it mandatory for environmental impact assessments to take place before human activities are allowed that could harm high seas creatures and their habitats. It should set the rules to ensure the protection and sustainable use of valuable genetic resources that are found deep in the ocean in the international waters far away from our shores, and make sure that the sharing of benefits derived from them is distributed fairly between developed and developing nations, rather than just for those countries that have the money and resources to exploit them.
All in all, this is a massive opportunity to change the current system that governs the ocean; from a system that focuses on exploitation (with rules to fish, navigate, mine and drill having been agreed decades ago) to one that ensures conservation and sustainable use of fragile ocean life for generations to come.
Under the water are magnificent seamounts, seeps and vents and delicate coral ecosystems all playing a critical role in keeping our oceans alive and vital. There are the spawning, nursing and feeding grounds of numerous weird and wonderful creatures that need protecting urgently. Setting aside ocean sanctuaries and restoring the health of the ocean is a necessity for our future well-being, for a balanced climate and for food security.
A LOT of hard work is needed in the coming years to make sure governments develop a strong agreement; one that has the protection of our ocean at its center and doesn’t simply continue the current trend of depletion and destruction. Meanwhile, there is no time to waste, the ocean needs protection NOW. Along with the voices of millions of Ocean Lovers around the world we are able to speak truth to power. While some of us spend endless days at political meetings pushing governments to do the right thing, we are working together with campaigners and activists from all over the world bearing witness and stopping ocean destruction where it happens on the ocean, to running corporate campaigns to block the money trail left behind illegal and unregulated fishing. From taking strong action to protect the North Sea in the Netherlands (in Dutch) to exposing rogue fishing in West Africa by Chinese companies and campaigning to stop unsustainable tuna being sold on the market, Greenpeace will continue to fight for a living ocean.
A massive thank you to all #OceanLovers out there – together we can bring about the change needed to save the oceans!
Sofia Tsenikli is a Senior Political Advisor on Oceans for Greenpeace International.
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