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To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what steps the Government is taking to help to protect the oceans; what role the Government will have in the forthcoming UN global ocean treaty negotiations; and which (a) Ministers and (b) officials will be involved in those negotiations.
The UK is leading the way on ocean protection. The Blue Belt Programme is on track to protect over 4 million square kilometres of ocean around the Overseas Territories before the end of the year. The Government has committed to extend this programme. We are also working closely with Commonwealth partners through the Commonwealth Marine Economies Programme (CMEP) to support sustainable development of their marine economies; and the Commonwealth Clean Ocean Alliance (CCOA) to reduce marine plastic pollution, amongst other initiatives. The Government is committed to further action to protect the ocean including through the £500 million Blue Planet Fund.
My Department and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs have been closely involved in the negotiation of a new Implementing Agreement under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction - the BBNJ Agreement - as an important step forward in addressing the challenges that the ocean faces. The UK is pressing for an ambitious Agreement to be concluded in 2020. It will be a key mechanism in enabling the designation of at least 30 per cent of the global ocean as Marine Protected Areas by 2030. A joint FCO-DEFRA team of officials will represent the UK in these talks based on positions agreed by ministers.