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High Seas Treaty: the final countdown

The 4th and final UN preparatory meeting (PrepCom) taking place in New York from the 10th to 21st July will hopefully be the home-run before the world says “yes” to a new legally binding agreement to protect high seas biodiversity. The plan is for governments to make a recommendation to the United Nations General Assembly to convene an intergovernmental conference that further develops and finalises the text of this new agreement. It’s not a moment too soon for all us high seas veterans. After more than a decade of discussion and negotiation, this process must not fall at the finishing line. The Treaty has been described as the Paris Agreement for the Oceans – it’s HUGE… Recent changes in leadership and policies, most notably by the United States, must not jeopardise what the international community has achieved together so far on this issue.

June's The Ocean Conference at the UN in New York has hopefully kept the wind in the sails of the high seas issue. It was really encouraging to hear a good number of governments voicing the need for this new agreement, as well as Sir Richard Branson, Leonardo DiCaprio and Sylvia Earle – just three of the many Ocean activists/celebrities who participated in the Conference.

Need reminding why the high seas need protecting? Then check out this video ("High Seas Need Protection") and the High Seas Alliance, and make your voice heard via #ThisWay2Treaty on why we need action at the final PrepCom meeting.

Arctic Heavy fuel oil ban up for discussion at July’s IMO Meeting
The International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) opens in London on the 3rd July. Canada, backed by Finland, Germany, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway and the United States, has submitted a proposal to the MEPC calling for work to begin within the IMO to develop measures that mitigate risks from the use and carriage of that dirty pollutant heavy fuel oil (HFO) by ships in the Arctic. This follows the recent adoption of the European Parliament’s Arctic Resolution, which amongst other things, calls for a ban on the use of HFO in Arctic waters.

Show your support for getting heavy fuel out of the Arctic by signing up here and urging countries @HFOFreeArctic to support a ban at the IMO.

Calling all MPA proposals: New funds available for Ocean protection
Do you know of a marine protected area (MPA) project that needs just a little extra help to succeed? Then check out the Waitt Foundation’s new initiative MPAs Over the Finish Line, which aims to identify projects where 6 to 12 months of additional, targeted funding will result in legally binding successful MPAs. Awards will range from US$50k to US$150k. No-take MPAs are strongly preferred. The submission deadline for proposals is 8th September 2017.

In addition, the German government has just launched its Blue Action Fund, which calls for proposals for Ocean conservation projects – mainly in the coastal waters of Africa, Latin America and the Asia/Pacific – that aim to reduce “the dramatic loss of marine biodiversity and to advance local development”. The first call for proposals intends to provide 4 to 6 grants, each worth €1-3 million, for marine conservation in small island developing states. Hurry, as the application time is tight – the deadline is 3rd August. Click here for more information on how to access these grants.