Australia makes statement of intent on global oceans leadership at UN Conference

The Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) welcomes the strong and clear commitments from the new Federal Environment Minister, Tanya Plibersek, to provide leadership on the protection and conservation of global oceans made at the UN Oceans Conference in Lisbon, Portugal.

The Minister has used the opportunity of this hugely important meeting for the future of the oceans to signal the new government’s intentions to address plastic pollution, protect and restore critical coastal ecosystems and provide international leadership on ocean conservation.

Darren Kindleysides, CEO of AMCS said:

Australia’s oceans are among the most internationally important, and we are custodians of some of the most loved and significant marine ecosystems on the planet, including the Great Barrier and Ningaloo Reefs. We are also home to an incredible diversity of marine wildlife, much of which is found nowhere else on Earth. But Australia’s oceans are under more threat than ever before from the climate, biodiversity and pollution crises.

Minister Plibersek’s clear acknowledgement at the conference on the scale of the threats and the need for government leadership is warmly welcomed. Marine heatwaves as a result of global warming are cooking our oceans around the country. The coral reef bleaching events that happened earlier this year in the Great Barrier Reef and on reefs off Western Australia, will be more frequent and more intense as a result of ocean heating. If we are to protect our coastline and seas, we need a rapid pivot from fossil fuels to renewables.

Minister Plibersek’s commitment to join the new plastics economy global commitment by the end of the year is a welcome sign of progress. However this commitment must come with concrete action to address Australia’s failure to meet its own plastic reduction targets. It’s time to transition away from voluntary frameworks and set mandatory reduction targets, with increased infrastructure investment to ensure all plastic is reused, recycled or composted. Businesses, investors and the community need certainty as we transition to a circular economy.

The Minister has also announced five new blue carbon projects to protect and restore mangrove, seagrass and saltmarsh ecosystems in Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania.

Protecting and restoring coastal habitats is vital to safeguarding biodiversity, helping address global warming and helping reduce land pollution hitting the oceans. Investment is vital, as is ensuring these ecosystems are not destroyed in the first place.

We look forward to working with the Minister and the Albanese Government on driving improvements to the state of Australia’s oceans and the protection of critical ecosystems and wildlife.

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