Nature Canada

Environmental Organizations Call on Canada to Sign and Ratify New High Seas Treaty

Thirty-five environmental organizations, both national and international, are calling on Canada today to sign and ratify the new treaty to protect high seas biodiversity.

Unceded Algonquin Territory — Ottawa, ON — November 7, 2023

Treaty negotiations concluded last March, and the treaty was opened for signature at the September meeting of the United Nations General Assembly. 83 countries have signed the treaty since then. However, despite being a member of the High Ambition Coalition for the High Seas, Canada has yet to do so.

“Canada has far and away the longest coastline of any country in the world, and Canadians recognize that protection of ocean biodiversity is vital to the very survival of the human race,” said Akaash Maharaj, Nature Canada’s Director of Policy. “The government of Canada has publicly applauded the High Seas Treaty, but it has yet to sign it, let alone implement it. We ask our leaders to follow their words with deeds.”

The high seas cover about half the planet’s surface and make up most of its liveable habitat. However, there remain significant gaps in our ability to govern it—especially when it comes to marine life. Once in force, the new treaty will help fill these gaps, including allowing for the establishment of protected areas to conserve important high seas regions.

Following the signing, countries must then ratify the treaty. To date, 83 countries have signed the treaty; 60 must fully ratify it for it to come into force. Many countries have committed to do so in time for the 2025 United Nations Oceans Conference, scheduled for June 2025 in France.

“With three international ocean basins adjacent to Canada’s waters, Canada has an outsized role in moving forward high seas marine protected areas, particularly in areas where we have already protected our own waters,” says Susanna Fuller, VP Conservation and Projects at Oceans North. “We had hoped that Canada would sign at the United Nations General Assembly alongside so many other countries, but the next best time is now.”

High Seas Treaty Sign On Letter
Lettre de signatures sur le traité de la haute mer

For more information, please contact:

Alex Tesar
Communications Manager
Oceans North

Akaash Maharaj
Director of Policy
Nature Canada | (416) 995-3275

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