New Zealand's engagement in international marine dialogue

Information on New Zealand's engagement in international discussions and negotiations impacting the marine environment.

About New Zealand's engagement in international discussions and negotiations impacting the marine environment.

About our international work

The Ministry engages in discussions and negotiations on global and regional environmental challenges impacting the marine environment. This work enables us to influence decisions made by international environmental organisations that significantly affect New Zealand. It also enables us to use international research, knowledge and experience in environmental policy and practice.

Marine biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ treaty)

New Zealand is participating in negotiations towards a new UN treaty for the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction, otherwise known as the ‘high seas’ and deep ocean bed.

Marine biodiversity includes all of the living diversity in the oceans, from whales, fish to corals and tiny plankton. The overarching goal of the treaty is to halt the decline and promote the restoration of this biodiversity, as well as establish an effective global regime that is transparent.

The negotiations are being led by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT), and the Ministry for the Environment is providing subject matter expertise support on one of the treaty’s four themes – environmental impact assessments (EIA).

The fourth and possibly final round of the negotiations has been delayed due to COVID restrictions. However intercessional work is currently underway and countries are engaging in informal dialogues to keep the momentum going in the discussions. It is anticipated that formal negotiations may resume in 2021.

Find out more about the treaty on the MFAT website.

International Seabed Authority

New Zealand is currently contributing to the International Seabed Authority's work to develop an international regulatory framework for the exploitation of seabed minerals in the high seas. The International Seabed Authority was established under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

For our submissions to the International Seabed Authority see New Zealand’s experiences with adaptive management for seabed mining projects.

To find out more see the International Seabed Authority

London Protocol

The Ministry is the lead policy agency responsible for implementing New Zealand's obligations under the London Protocol 1996.

The 1996 Protocol, and the earlier London Convention 1972, are key international treaties that regulate the dumping of waste and other matter at sea.

The 1996 Protocol takes a precautionary approach to dumping. It aims to protect and preserve the marine environment from pollution caused by the dumping or burning of waste at sea.

The principles of the Protocol are reflected in New Zealand’s domestic legislation. This includes the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) Act 2012, the Resource Management Act 1991, and the Maritime Transport Act 1994.

The London Protocol and Convention fall under the responsibility of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO). The IMO is the UN agency responsible for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution by ships. Maritime New Zealand coordinates New Zealand’s input to the IMO while the Ministry contributes to work under the Protocol.

For more information on New Zealand’s engagement with the IMO see the Maritime NZ website.

Find out more

Biodiversity and species conservation [MFAT website]