Switzerland must ratify the High Seas Protection Agreement as soon as possible

The oceans are under threat. The average temperature of the oceans at the beginning of September 2023 was 21 degrees Celsius. That is 1 degree more than in 1985, and biodiversity in particular is suffering as a result. The international community must act.

The state of the oceans is serious. This is shown by a new Greenpeace study. Iris Menn, marine biologist and executive director of Greenpeace Switzerland, says: «The climate crisis is having an increasing impact on our oceans and industrial fishing fleets are bringing stocks to the brink of collapse.» And she continues, «Switzerland must anchor the High Seas Protection Agreement in national law as soon as possible. » States can ratify the agreement starting Sept. 20.

Water warming and overfishing threaten species

It is not only the rising temperature of the world's oceans that is affecting the species. It has never been so high. At the beginning of September, it was 21 degrees Celsius, 1 degree higher than in 1985. It is also overfishing that is causing many species to become almost extinct. Between 2019 and 2022, ocean-going vessels were underway 8.5% longer. In the ecologically particularly valuable areas, there was even an increase of 22.5%. Drifting longlines also account for more than three-quarters of deep-sea fishing. Tuna and swordfish are particularly affected. They are massively overfished. In addition, this fishing method causes a particularly large amount of bycatch.

Less than 1% of the high seas is protected

Six months ago, the United Nations adopted a global treaty to protect the oceans. Currently, less than 1% of the high seas are protected. The goal of the Oceans Treaty is to put at least 30% under protection by 2030. To achieve this, eleven million square kilometers must be protected each year, about 2.5 times the area of the European Union.

Community of states must implement the Oceans Treaty quickly

Greenpeace demands that the international community quickly implement the Oceans Treaty. 120 days after 60 countries have enshrined the treaty in national law, it will become global law. Such ratifications are possible from September 20. That is when the 78th UN General Assembly convenes in New York.

Switzerland must move forward

According to the Federal Office for the Environment, Switzerland can ratify the treaty «in spring 2025 at the earliest». Reason: It needs a decision by parliament. «The health of the oceans is closely linked to our survival, whether coastal or inland,» warns Iris Menn. And she demands: «Switzerland must anchor the High Seas Protection Agreement in national law as quickly as possible and press ahead with implementation at the international level.»

About the Global Ocean Treaty

The Global Ocean Treaty on Marine Conservation underscores the importance and urgency of protecting at least 30% of the oceans by 2030 with the help of the treaty. The Global Ocean Treaty is one of the most significant international agreements for nature conservation in history and is the first agreement to focus on the conservation of wildlife and plants in high seas areas.