Labor urged to move on Oceans Treaty as Pacific leads race to ratify

SYDNEY, 24 January 2024 — The Pacific Island nation of Palau has become the first country to officially ratify the historic UN Global Oceans Treaty, placing pressure on the Australian government to follow suit, says Greenpeace Australia Pacific.

Adopted in June 2023, the UN Oceans Treaty is the most significant multilateral environmental deal since the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement and a vital tool to help reverse the ocean crisis. Australia joined dozens of other nations in signing the historic and legally-binding pact, but it must still be ratified by individual countries before it comes into effect.

The Treaty must enter in force by 2025 to keep the globally agreed target of protecting 30% of the oceans by 2030 within reach.

Palau’s ratification highlights Pacific nations’ continuing leadership on global ocean protection, and sends a strong signal for other countries, including Australia, to fast-track ratification and take action to deliver protected oceans sanctuaries where marine life can recover and thrive.

Greenpeace Australia Pacific senior campaigner Violette Snow said the Global Oceans Treaty is a critical step forward in the fight to protect our oceans from the mounting threats of climate change, marine plastics and overfishing.

“We congratulate Palau on becoming the first country to ratify the Global Oceans Treaty, a powerful tool to protect our oceans,” she said. 

“Australia’s leadership and cooperation with like-minded countries has seen a commitment to stronger protections for our oceans, but now the Australian government must back up words with action. 

“Lying between Australia and New Zealand, the Lord Howe Rise and South Tasman Sea have been identified as areas of ecological significance, but right now they’re under threat from harmful fishing practices.

“The race to protect our oceans is on. We urge Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek to follow Palau’s announcement and act just as swiftly to ratify the Treaty, and to follow through on its conservation leadership on the global stage.”

Palau is the first nation to officially ratify the treaty, after Chile last week approved their treaty legislation with a unanimous vote in their senate. 




Notes to editors

In September 2023, Greenpeace International published a report setting out the political process to deliver protection for the global oceans. The report, ‘30×30: From Global Ocean Treaty to Protection at Sea’ explores how cumulative pressures on the high seas are increasing, and quantifies for the first time the growing fishing activity in areas earmarked for protection, using data from Global Fishing Watch.

Images for media use can be found here

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