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Statement by President Michael D. Higgins on agreement of UN High Seas Treaty

Date: Sun 5th Mar, 2023 | 11:12

"At a time when we are receiving the direst warnings as a result of the accelerated melting of the ice caps, the news from New York that at the United Nations an agreement has been reached overnight on a High Seas Treaty is particularly timely.

While I, as President of Ireland, welcome this agreement, it is a gain for the future of humanity. 

Agreement on a Treaty to protect our oceans, and the vital life both within and which depends on them, is long overdue with only 1.2% of the high seas currently protected.

All those interested in the future of the planet will be grateful for those who have worked over many years to bring us to this point, the first international agreement on ocean protection since the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea was signed in 1982.

UN Sustainable Development Goal 14 commits to conserving and sustainably using the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development and this agreement will make a significant contribution to that goal.

It is essential that attention now swiftly moves to formal adoption of the text, to ratification and to implementation.

Time is of the essence if the 30x30 pledge made by countries at the UN biodiversity conference in December to protect a third of the sea by 2030 can be reached. A target which must be considered a bare minimum.

This news comes just after the conclusion of the State Visit to Ireland by the President of the Malta, Dr George Vella, who had this item at the top of the agenda of our discussions during the week."