Thank you very, very much everybody.
Can I start by acknowledging my Co-chair, Your Excellency Judy Wakhungu, Cabinet Secretary for the Environment and Natural Resources of Kenya; our moderator, Your Excellency Heraldo Muñoz, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Chile; distinguished ministers; distinguished delegates and representatives.
I call to order the 7th partnership dialogue of the United Nations conference to support the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14: conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas, and marine resources for sustainable development on the theme, “Enhancing the conservation and sustainable use of oceans and their resources and implementing international law as reflected in the United Nations convention on the law of the sea”.
Let me take this opportunity to cordially welcome all of you to this partnership dialogue.
I am honoured to serve as your Co-chair together with Her Excellency, the Cabinet Secretary from Kenya.
I am also pleased to serve with His Excellency, the Foreign Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade for Chile, who will serve as our moderator.
Before we proceed, I would like to make some introductory remarks about how the theme of our discussion today relates to my country, Australia, and our region.
Australia is an ocean nation, surrounded by the Indian, Pacific and Southern oceans.
Our marine jurisdiction is the third largest in the world, encompassing around 14 million square kilometres.
We are acutely aware of the health of the oceans underpins the economic growth and sustainable development of our region.
The theme for this partnership dialogue is perhaps the most important of them all.
International law is a reflection of our collective ambition to find solutions to problems that can only be resolved through global action and cooperation.
We must work together to build and enforce an effective legal framework for the conservation and sustainable use of oceans, seas and marine resources.
The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea [UNCLOS] is our starting point.
UNCLOS provides the legal framework within which all activities in the oceans and seas must be carried out.
This includes the ability to draw on the natural resources of the seas and the right of freedom of navigation for our ships.
Effective implementation of UNCLOS and other related international instruments will be critical to achieving all targets under Sustainable Development Goal 14.
In our region, Australia is working with the Pacific Community to support our Pacific neighbours, to implement UNCLOS by providing technical and legal support for maritime boundary delimitation.
In recent years, significant progress has been made by Pacific Island Countries in establishing their formal maritime boundaries.
By the end of this year, two-thirds of Pacific Island Countries will have successfully concluded negotiations for their maritime boundaries.
I congratulate them on this significant achievement.
Looking to the next stage, I was pleased to announce earlier this week that Australia will commit a further $2 million over three years to provide ongoing support for this important Pacific maritime boundary work.
We rely on our oceans and seas to provide 90 per cent of the world’s fish supplies.
International instruments, such as UNCLOS, the UN Fish Stocks Agreement and the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fishing, provide the overarching framework for global sustainable fisheries management.
We encourage all member states to join these instruments and implement their provisions.
A significant challenge facing the international community is the scourge of illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.
The global community must coordinate monitoring, control and surveillance efforts to combat IUU fishing.
We encourage all member states, in this context, to join Australia and implement the FAO Port State Measures Agreement, which will curb the flow of illicit fish onto the market.
Australia’s work with partners in the Pacific and Southern oceans has proven to be a successful model for regional cooperation to address IUU fishing.
The Niue Treaty Subsidiary Agreement, when fully implemented, will improve coordination to combat illegal fishing.
I was pleased to also announce earlier this week, as one of Australia’s voluntary commitments, $4.4 million over four years to build capacity in the Pacific to support implementation of this agreement.
Finally, we need to ensure international law can meet the challenges of our times.
Australia strongly supports the efforts to develop a legally-binding instrument on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction.
This remains a critical gap in international oceans governance, one that we must work together to address.
With that, I look forward to the ideas and actions that will be generated by today’s discussion.
I now hand over the floor to my fellow Co-chair, Her Excellency Cabinet Secretary Wakhungu, for her remarks.
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