Greenpeace in the Pacific and Indian Ocean Basins and the dire need for a Global Ocean Treaty

Date: 8th June 2021

Greenpeace ships Arctic Sunrise and the Rainbow Warrior are currently voyaging through the high seas of the Indian Ocean and the Pacific: crucial battlegrounds against destructive industries, home to unique ecosystems and surrounded by coastal communities that a strong Global Ocean Treaty would help protect.

Climate advocate and scientist Shaama Sandooyea holds a placard reading ‘Youth Strike For Climate’ in support of the climate strike movement.

The crew, scientists and activists on board the Arctic Sunrise have been conducting investigations and crucial scientific research at sea, using hydrophones and eDNA to monitor the astounding biodiversity in the Saya de Malha Banks. Check out Reuters’ reports on the world’s largest seagrass meadow and tracking sperm whales on the Mascarene Plateau. We marked the Fridays For Future global day of action with Shaama Sandooyea carrying out the world’s first underwater climate strike. Shaama, a 24 year old scientist and co-founder of Fridays For Future Mauritius, sent a message to world leaders that “We can’t keep treading water on the climate crisis”, which was amplified by Greta Thunberg. Actor Bonnie Wright also added her voice to calls for governments to protect the high seas, while the #DrawTheOceans challenge on Instagram has connected people to the oceans even during lockdowns.

The urgency of the ocean crisis is also why the Rainbow Warrior has taken the first ever action at sea against deep sea mining companies carrying out exploration activities in the Pacific Ocean’s international seabed. Consistent with the precautionary principle and the ecosystem approach, Greenpeace does not see any place for deep sea mining in a transition towards a sustainable future. Scientists are already warning that deep sea mining would cause inevitable and irreversible harm to our oceans, while the International Seabed Authority’s limited mandate and widely criticized environmental impact assessment process highlights the urgent need for a strong Global Ocean Treaty.

The Arctic Sunrise in the Indian Ocean. A team aboard the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise are on an expedition to the Indian Ocean to contribute to a better understanding of the wildlife and diversity of the region.

A strong Global Ocean Treaty would enable governments to create ocean sanctuaries and set high standards to protect the global oceans from the most damaging industries, giving coastal communities and marine life a chance against these multiple threats. By creating mechanisms for delivering effective ocean protection and providing scientific expertise, resources and guidance, the Treaty can improve governments’ ability, including through Regional Fisheries Management Organizations and sectoral bodies, to collectively act to restore ocean health for the benefit of present and future generations.

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