Australia should be a global ocean champion

“Ambition is our only option”

These are the words Australia’s new Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek recently delivered to a room full of global decision-makers during the UN’s Ocean Conference.

Considering the state of our planet’s oceans – she’s not wrong.

Right now, less than 10% of the world’s oceans have any protection, with under 3% in highly protected marine sanctuaries. On the High Seas, where much of the world’s big fish and giant marine life roam and feed, there’s almost no protection at all.

Australia has led the world on ocean protection in the past, we can step up once again.

Will you join us in backing the Minister’s UN speech and call for Australia to be a global ocean champion?

Petition text

Dear Minister Plibersek,

Australia’s vast, varied and rich marine environment is central to who we are as a nation. It is both tropical and temperate, and home to some of the most renowned and unique life on Earth. But it’s also increasingly at risk from pollution, overuse and the impact of climate change. 

These environmental threats aren’t just confined to Australia. In the words of UN secretary-general António Guterres, our planet is facing an “ocean emergency”. 

Given this emergency, it is very encouraging to see your announcement for $9.5 million towards blue carbon projects and your strong statements at the UN Oceans Conference about the need for ambition and global leadership. The future of the Earth’s oceans depends on a worldwide effort, and each country must play its part. 

Australia has a proud history of marine conservation and management, and I believe we’re ready to step up and become a global ocean champion. 

Australia, along with other nations, has been driving the call to see the creation of desperately-needed marine parks in the Southern Ocean. The Government must continue to work with like-minded nations and look for additional opportunities to protect this vitally important marine region.

Recently, Australia became home to two new globally significant marine parks around Christmas and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands. Co-designed with the local communities, these marine parks provide a haven for unique and rare seabirds, land crabs and marine life. But the next step will be to secure good management for these world-leading marine parks. 

We must also create a way to put in place marine parks on the High Seas – the oceans beyond individual countries’ waters that make up two-thirds of the world’s oceans. The nations of the world need to create a High Seas Treaty as soon as possible and Australia – an island nation surrounded by high seas – must take a key leadership role in the negotiations to help get the Treaty over the line.

Lastly, Australia must play an active leadership role in supporting negotiations toward a global Plastics Treaty – one that addresses the full lifecycle of plastic from source to sea. 

Minister Plibersek, you recently announced that the new Australian government is not only committed to doing its bit for our oceans, but is also willing to step up with our partners to show global leadership. 

I look forward to seeing your strong action to demonstrate that Australia can lead the way on ocean protection.

Yours sincerely,

The world needs ocean leadership, and Australia is ready to step up.

Join us in calling for Australia to be a global ocean champion.

We acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which our offices stand and we pay our respects to Elders past, present and emerging.