ACT NOW: Tell Australia to ratify the High Seas Treaty
The UN recently approved a High Seas Treaty for international marine parks. But it’s not a done deal until 60 countries, including Australia, ratify the agreement.
Beyond any country’s jurisdiction, the High Seas are teeming with life, providing the food we eat and the air we breathe. They’re also under increasing pressure from overfishing, deep-sea mining and pollution.
Once ratified, the treaty would allow the creation of High Seas marine parks, providing the protection and management our global oceans need.
Which means it’s up to each of us, to get our country over the line.
Take two minutes to tell the Australian Government to ratify the Treaty.
Add your name now
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Dear High Seas Policy Section
Department Climate Change, Energy, Environment and Water
Cc Minister Plibersek, Senator Duniam, Senator Whish-Wilson and Josh Wilson MP
I strongly support Australia’s swift ratification of the High Seas Biodiversity Treaty and the continuation of global leadership on this issue. Ratifying this treaty presents an opportunity to continue Australia’s legacy of leadership in the Law of the Sea.
At least 60 States must ratify the High Seas Treaty before it can enter into force. It is important that this milestone is achieved as quickly as possible. This is essential to delivering the Kunming-Montreal Agreement to the Convention on Biological Diversity that commits to protecting at least 30% of land and sea by 2030, which scientists say is necessary to protect biodiversity and restore ocean health.
I strongly support the swift ratification of the High Seas Treaty by Australia for the following reasons:
- The treaty creates a framework to establish area-based management tools in the high seas, such as marine protected areas (MPAs), to protect and restore marine biodiversity and ecosystems.
Australia should also support other nations in proposing high seas MPAs across the world to ensure a connected network of highly protected marine areas is achieved.
- The treaty regulates the use of marine organisms (referred to as marine genetic resources) collected in the high seas.
Most of the ocean’s biodiversity, including genetic diversity, remains unstudied, but holds great opportunities for the economy, science and conservation. For example, marine organisms are being collected and utilised to develop pharmaceuticals and cosmetic products and this should be appropriately regulated.
- The treaty puts in place an environmental impact assessment (EIA) process to avoid or reduce impacts on the marine environment from activities in the high seas.
The high seas are among the greatest of our global commons. It is critical to mandate environmental impact assessment for possible future activities like geoengineering, oil and gas exploration, seabed mining, fishing, and for pollution events.
- The treaty requires Parties to provide capacity building and transfer marine technology to developing States assessed and managed for their cumulative impacts.
Australia could also consider sharing its marine scientific and technological expertise in the period between the opening for signature and later entry into force of the treaty to support partner countries in laying the groundwork for future proposals for high seas MPAs, the implementation of the EIA provisions, and to build capacity for Marine Genetic Resource-related research.
In addition to Australia rapidly ratifying the treaty, Australia should continue to play a lead role in delivering strong environmental outcomes under the treaty. Of particular note is the opportunity:
- for Australia to champion broad uptake and early implementation of the treaty by other nations
- for Australia to be among the first members of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to ratify and influence the management plan for MPAs
- to implement the agreement on a tiered approach to environmental impact assessment (EIA). Importantly this tiered approach can support the assessment of cumulative impacts—e.g. those additional stresses on the environment that can occur when multiple different activities (such as fishing, shipping, and mining) happen in or affect the same area.
- for the COP to facilitate strengthened regional-scale cooperation across sectors and jurisdictions so that the oceans can be made safe for migratory species and their critical habitats throughout their ranges.
I look forward to seeing the government continue to ensure Australia acts as a champion for the new High Seas Treaty and its early implementation. Thank you for considering my submission.
The UN recently approved a High Seas Treaty for international marine parks. But it’s not a done deal until countries, including Australia, ratify the agreement. The High Seas are a lifeline for our planet but are at risk from overfishing and pollution. Take two minutes to tell the Aussie Government to ratify this agreement. Add your name now!