Media Release Marine Conservation

Conservation groups welcome Australia signing High Seas Treaty 

September 21, 2023

The Australian Marine Conservation Society, The Pew Charitable Trusts and the Save Our Marine Life alliance have welcomed Australia becoming a founding signatory of the High Seas Biodiversity Treaty.

“We commend the Australian Government for playing a leading role in ensuring this crucial treaty enters into force rapidly and that the collective task of protecting the high seas can begin without delay,” said Christabel Mitchell, Oceans Director of the Pew Charitable Trusts.

“This treaty will enable the establishment of marine protected areas in the high seas, which are critically important to protect our global marine life and build resilience in the face of climate change.”

Australian Marine Conservation Society Chief Executive Darren Kindleysides said: “This treaty paves the way for meaningful protection of the high seas which comprise nearly two-thirds of the global ocean, yet only one percent of the high seas is currently protected.

“These vast areas that lie beyond the maritime boundaries of any country support abundant fisheries, serve as migratory routes for species such as whales and sharks, and support remarkable ecosystems such as deep-water corals and other majestic marine life.

“We urge Australia to continue to champion this historic treaty and encourage other states to urgently sign on and bring the treaty into force.”

A network of marine protected areas (MPAs) in the high seas will be critical to protecting at least 30 percent of the global ocean by 2030.

Last December, the Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity successfully adopted “30 by 30” – a goal to protect 30 percent of both land and sea areas by 2030 – as part of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, an international agreement aimed at halting and reversing biodiversity loss while reorienting nature on a path to recovery.

In March 2023, more than 190 member states of the United Nations reached agreement on the high seas treaty after negotiations spanning more than a decade. Before the treaty can enter into force, it must be ratified by at least 60 UN member states.

The Pew Charitable Trusts and the Australian Marine Conservation Society lead the Save Our Marine Life alliance of 27 conservation groups.