Tánaiste and Ministers O’Brien and Noonan welcome landmark UN agreement on ocean conservation
Press release05 March 2023
The Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Micheál Martin T.D., Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien T.D., and Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan T.D., have welcomed a landmark United Nations agreement on global ocean conservation, which was concluded in New York last night.
The Agreement on Marine Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ) will provide a framework for global action to protect the High Seas, which comprise two thirds of oceans and half the surface area of the planet, but fall outside the jurisdiction of any country.
In particular, the agreement will provide for the creation of a global network of High Seas marine protected areas, and will strengthen processes for environmental impact assessments for activities that may impact the marine environment.
Welcoming the conclusion of the agreement, the Tánaiste said:
“This is a major step forward for ocean conservation. Currently only 1% of the High Seas are protected, which is far short of the globally agreed target of 30%. The agreement provides mechanisms to significantly improve the protection of the marine environment, and Ireland is committed to working with the international community to realise its full potential.”
Minister O’Brien said:
“Coupled with the Government’s forthcoming Marine Protected Areas legislation, this landmark agreement provides us with the tools we need for the protection and restoration of marine biodiversity in line with the recently agreed Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework under the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, and to deliver on UN Sustainable Development Goal 14 (Life below Water).”
Minister of State Noonan commented:
“This agreement marks further good news for our marine environment and reflects positive global momentum to protect our oceans and seas. We will continue to play our part in efforts to protect our oceans against the growing impacts of climate change and human activities on our oceans.”
5 March 2023
Notes to editors:
The BBNJ Agreement (full title: Agreement under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction) was agreed on 4 March by an intergovernmental conference convened by the UN General Assembly. This marks the culmination of a process, which began in 2004, to develop a new international agreement to address marine conservation in the High Seas and deep seabed.
In addition to its provisions on marine protected areas and environmental impact assessments, the agreement sets out arrangements for capacity building measures to assist developing countries in achieving the aims of the agreement. Moreover, the agreement contains provisions addressing benefit-sharing relating to marine genetic resources.
Ireland played an active role in the negotiations as part of the EU negotiating team.
The agreement will be subject to national ratification procedures.