Marine life flies outside UN as world meets to discuss global ocean treaty

Greenpeace flies oceans treaty banner and colourful marine life kite from a boat on the East River


New York, 4 September 2018 – Greenpeace activists flew a giant turtle outside the United Nations HQ in New York this morning, as countries gathered to begin negotiations, for the first time in history, towards a treaty covering all oceans outside of national borders. The large and colourful kite, representing iconic marine life, was flown from a boat on the East River, alongside an aerial banner reading “Global Oceans – Global Treaty!”

The negotiations are the result of a decade-long process and could conclude as early as 2020.

“The fate of our oceans is in the hands of everyone in these negotiations,” said Dr Sandra Schoettner of Greenpeace’s global ocean sanctuaries campaign, speaking from outside the UN. “It’s no exaggeration to say that the governments meeting today are making history as we speak. It is urgent they create a strong ocean treaty which allows us to create a global network of ocean sanctuaries.”

The treaty is crucial because there are no global rules to protect the vast majority of the global oceans – but quite a few to exploit them. As a consequence, the oceans are being pushed to their limits by overfishing, pollution, climate change and other human activity. In the absence of a global treaty, a mere 1% of the global oceans are currently protected.

Dr Schoettner continued: “Oceans beyond borders cover almost half of our planet. They belong to us all, but if we do not act now we will lose vital habitats and species before we even know what we’ve lost. Now world leaders need to show the vision to achieve the scientific imperative of protecting at least 30% of the oceans by 2030. We can only do that with a global ocean treaty which creates real protection for these waters and allows us to create a global network of ocean sanctuaries.”



The boats and kites were operated by activists from Greenpeace Germany.

For further information, interviews, and comments, contact:

Heike Dierbach, Greenpeace Germany,, +49 160 911 93 785

Greenpeace International Press Desk:, +31 (0) 20 718 2470 (available 24 hours)

Photo and video:

For images of the flying marine life, see:

For a collection of ocean photography for free use, see:

N.B. Not all of these images are from the high seas; for illustration purposes only.

Spokespeople at UN:

Greenpeace spokespeople available at the UN in New York during the negotiations:

  • Dr Sandra Schoettner, Greenpeace Germany, marine biologist of Greenpeace’s global ocean sanctuaries campaign (Languages: German, English)
  • Estefanía González, Greenpeace Andino, oceans campaigner (Languages: Spanish, English)
  • Dr Veronica Frank, Greenpeace International, political advisor, (Languages: Italian, English)
  • Sofia Tsenikli, Greenpeace International, senior political strategist (Languages: Greek, English)
  • Arifsyah Nasution, Greenpeace Southeast Asia, oceans campaigner (Languages: Indonesian, English)
  • Louisa Casson, Greenpeace United Kingdom, oceans campaigner (Languages: French, English)
  • John Hocevar, Greenpeace USA, oceans campaign director (Language: English)

What's next?