Government representatives, NGOs and international experts met in Sydney to consider improvements to global governance of the high seas at a time of increasing concern about ocean conservation.

The Developments in Global Oceans Governance and Conservation seminar was led by Co-Director of the Alliance 21 project, the Hon. Robert Hill and the Rt. Hon. Paul Martin, former Prime Minister of Canada, both of whom are Commissioners with the recently formed Global Ocean Commission.

The Parliamentary Secretary for the Minister for the Environment, the Hon. Senator Simon Birmingham gave the Australian government's perspective. He affirmed a committment to the importance of healthy oceans, but said that the new government's ocean policy was still under consideration.

The high seas comprise 64 per cent of the world's ocean area that lies outside national jurisdictions and covers nearly half the world's surface. Within the next 12 months the United Nations will decide whether to embark on negotiations for a new international agreement to strengthen the governance framework for this global resource, which is increasingly subject to unregulated fishing, deep-sea mining, oil drilling and pollution. The Australian government is a key player in this process and the US government's approach will be pivotal for any future governance reform.

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