Ottawa welcomes signing of ocean basin treaty

Canada has signed a historic global ocean agreement on the first anniversary of the landmark document’s creation.

The Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, Diane Lebouhillier, signed the High Seas Treaty at the United Nations in New York on Monday during his 12 day tour in the U.S. to promote Canadian seafood products, marine conservation and a sustainable ocean economy.

Ocean conservation groups celebrated signing, but urged the Canadian government to act quickly and ratify the treaty aimed at protecting marine biodiversity in shared international waters. also known as the BBNJ Agreement.

The agreement is the result of decades of work and provides a legally binding plan to create marine protected areas (MPAs) in international waters in a bid to conserve marine life and the fair and sustainable use of ocean resources.

The agreement represents one of the first coordinated international efforts to preserve the high seas, which make up two-thirds of the ocean but are inadequately governed by a patchwork of agreements and agencies focused largely on resource extraction, such as fishing or underwater mining.

Signing the agreement was an important step toward meeting Ottawa’s national and international biodiversity pledge to protect 30 per cent of oceans, waters and land by 2030, the federal government said. stated in a statement.

Canada, a maritime nation with the world’s longest coastline, is proud to sign the treaty that reflects a coordinated approach to creating marine conservation areas, Lebouthillier said.

“People around the world depend on healthy oceans. They are the backbone of many economies, cultures and ecosystems,” she stated.

Canada joins other nations pushing to protect marine life in shared ocean waters, said Susanna Fuller, vice president of conservation and projects at Oceans North.

Ocean conservation groups welcomed Canada’s move but also urged the federal government to quickly ratify the agreement aimed at protecting ocean life in shared international waters.

“Now the race is on to ratify it,” Fuller said.

Ocean conservation groups around the world are pushing so that the treaty can be finalized at the UN Ocean Conference in 2025.

The agreement will only become operational after at least 60 countries sign and ratify the document, Fuller emphasized.

Canada, like 88 other countries that have signed the treaty, must also pass domestic legislation stating that it will comply with the terms of the treaty.

To date, only the Pacific island nation of Palau and Chile have ratified the deal.

The ocean is severely affected by biodiversity loss and climate change, making it vital to quickly formalize the treaty, Fuller said.

Canada’s signature gives the treaty additional momentum and the country can now build on its global reputation for environmental leadership by advancing it on the international stage, he added.

“Canada has an important role to play in advancing the treaty and ensuring the ocean continues to sustain future generations,” he said.

The sooner the treaty is signed, the sooner work can begin on a global network of ocean sanctuaries that threatened marine life desperately needs, said Sarah King, Greenpeace Canada’s oceans and plastics campaign leader.

For countries to fulfill the 30 x 30 global promise, more than 11 million square kilometers from the ocean must be protected every year, King said.

“We need to see more urgency to turn this historic treaty into law,” he said.

Rochelle Baker / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada’s National Observer

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