Lisbon, Portugal - Activists from Greenpeace International have attempted to put up large placards outside the Altice Arena where the UN Ocean Conference is taking place this week in Lisbon. The placards, which show sharks being killed by political inaction and read "Strong Ocean Treaty now," were intended to send a clear message to the assembled leaders that the marine crisis is deepening while they pay lip service cast off for a meaningful shelter in Lisbon. However, the activists were stopped by the police. Instead, activists displayed large banners outside the arena that read, "A Strong Global Seas Deal Now!" and "Protege os Oceanos". Photo and video are available here.
Laura Müller1 of the Greenpeace campaign "Protect the Oceans" said:
“Our leaders are not delivering on their promise to protect the oceans. While governments continue to make fine statements about marine conservation, as they are doing here in Lisbon, millions of sharks are killed by European Union ships every year. The world needs to see through their hypocrisy.
“Leaders like EU Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevicius have repeatedly pledged to sign an ambitious global ocean treaty and protect 2030% of the world's oceans by 30. Even UN Secretary-General António Guterres said we are facing a marine crisis. The treaty needs to be completed in August, we don’t need more time to discuss how to protect the oceans, we need to do ocean protection.”
As governments delay meaningful action to protect the oceans, people's lives and livelihoods are at stake. The loss of marine biodiversity is hampering the ocean's ability to provide food for millions of people. Shark populations worldwide have declined by 50% over the past 70 years. The number of sharks landed by EU vessels tripled between 2002 and 2014. Around 13 million sharks were killed by EU ships between 2000 and 2012. Sharks are apex predators and vital to the health of marine ecosystems.
Lisbon is the last major political moment before the final negotiations of the Global Ocean Treaty in August 2022. 49 governments, including the EU and its 27 member stateshave committed to signing an ambitious deal in 2022.
Without a strong global ocean treaty this year, protecting at least 30% of the world's oceans by 2030 will be almost impossible. This, according to scientists, is the bare minimum needed to give the oceans room to recover from centuries of human exploitation. Less than 3% of the oceans are currently protected.
 Laura Meller is an ocean activist and polar adviser at Greenpeace Nordic.