Governments Take Weak Stance on the Ocean

Contact: Joanna Benn, 202.247.5823,

Washington, DC - 05/15/2012 - Susan Lieberman, director of international policy at the Pew Environment Group, issued the following statement today in response to the lack of necessary action on high seas biodiversity conservation at the United Nations BBNJ (Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction) meeting, which concluded Friday. Under no single country's legal jurisdiction, the high seas waters make up 64 percent of the world’s ocean and cover nearly half the planet’s surface.

“Without consideration of new means to fill the current gaps in ocean management, it’s hard to see a way forward for meaningful and lasting solutions to counter the serious threats facing the high seas—particularly overfishing, pollution, habitat degradation, and climate change.

“Delegates were deadlocked over the decision on whether to move forward with discussions on the creation of a new global governance mechanism for the high seas. They only agreed to hold two workshops, which will delay progress until late 2013 at the earliest.

“In spite of strong support from many pro-conservation countries, the meeting was unable to generate the consensus needed to produce real action this week. A small number of countries blocked progress. It is truly disappointing.

“Many States have called for this issue to be taken up at the highest political level, with heads of State. Rio+20 offers such an opportunity. Governments must take decisive action on ocean conservation and management at Rio+20, including high seas governance, for the sake of our future and that of all 7 billion inhabitants of our planet; if not now—really, then when?”

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