We want to hear your views on New Zealand’s participation in negotiations on a new UN treaty about marine biodiversity.

The treaty will be about the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in areas beyond countries’ national jurisdiction (or BBNJ). It will come under the umbrella of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

These negotiations provide an opportunity to ensure the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity in the high seas and deep seabed and to fill gaps in the international rules that govern it.

Tell us your views on any of these four main areas:

  • Marine genetic resources, including possible access and benefit sharing arrangements
  • Area-based management tools, including marine protected areas
  • Environmental impact assessments
  • Capacity-building and the transfer of marine technology to developing countries

Read more about these areas on our website here.

We value any other feedback you might have outside these questions.

What is the new treaty about?

Nearly two-thirds of the ocean lies outside any country’s national jurisdiction. These areas contain unique ecosystems such as seamounts, hydrothermal vents and cold-water corals populated by an estimated 2 million yet-to-be identified species. We use some species directly, particularly fish, and others can be impacted indirectly by human activities. Some species are highly migratory and swim through areas within and beyond national jurisdiction, including eels, sharks, seabirds, and marine mammals.

There is already a complex system of rules on the use of the high seas and deep seabed, including for fishing, shipping and mining. The pressures on marine biodiversity from these activities and new uses are expected to increase, as are the impacts of climate change and ocean acidification. UN Members decided further rules were needed to deal with these pressures in a coordinated way.

Therefore, in December 2017, the United Nations General Assembly set up an Intergovernmental Conference to begin negotiations on a new treaty on the conservation and sustainable use of this biodiversity. These negotiations will start in September 2018.

The new treaty will not apply to New Zealand’s own marine areas, only to areas beyond any state’s jurisdiction. There will be further opportunities to provide input during the treaty negotiations over the coming two years.

How to have your say

  • Email us: BBNJ@mfat.govt.nz
  • Mail: BBNJ Coordinator, Environment Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Private Bag 18-901, Wellington

Public submissions close on 4 July 2018.

What we will do with your views

Your feedback will be considered by our negotiators and summarised for Minister of Foreign Affairs Winston Peters. New Zealand’s negotiating mandate will be considered by Cabinet in August ahead of the first negotiating session in September.