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Source: Green Party

The Green Party is celebrating the signing of a historic United Nations Ocean Treaty, and calls on the new Oceans and Fisheries Minister to urgently step up protection for Aotearoa’s oceans. 

“We are delighted. This is a historic day for global ocean conservation. But with the health of the oceans around Aotearoa declining at an alarming rate, the Government has shown itself to be completely out of step with global progress. The new oceans and fisheries minister, Stuart Nash must now show leadership and commit to protecting 30 percent of Aotearoa’s oceans by 2030,” says the Green Party’s spokesperson for oceans and fisheries, Eugenie Sage. 

The new High Seas Treaty commits to create a global network of marine protected areas covering 30% of oceans by 2030. The agreement was reached on Sunday afternoon New Zealand time, after 38 hours of talks, at UN headquarters in New York.

“The high seas – the ocean areas beyond the jurisdiction of any nation – cover two thirds of the surface of the planet, yet less than one percent of the high seas is protected. The new High Seas Treaty will require countries to work together to protect global oceans from industrial fishing, deepsea drilling, plastic pollution, sediment run off from land, seabed mining, and warming sea temperatures.

“I would like to acknowledge the hard work of the New Zealand delegation at the UN who showed the necessary will and determination to get the treaty agreed. 

“But the high seas is only one part of a decades-long story of neglect when it comes to the health of our oceans. Closer to home, Aotearoa is woefully behind on action to protect ocean heath. Right now the Labour Government is not doing anywhere near enough to protect our own oceans. The clock is ticking and we’re at risk of losing precious habitats foreve. . 

“As well as ratifying the new treaty and working with other countries to protect the high seas, the new Minister needs to step up, starting with a ban on bottom trawling of precious seamounts, effective protection of the Hauraki Gulf Tīkapa Moana, progressing the much delayed Rangitahua Kermadecs Ocean Sanctuary and the network of small marine protected areas on the South East Otago coast,” says the Green Party’s spokesperson for oceans and fisheries, Eugenie Sage.