Fact Sheet – The United States and China: Protecting and Conserving the Ocean

Fact Sheet

Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
June 8, 2016
The United States and China met to reaffirm their national, bilateral, and international commitments to ocean conservation at the eighth U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED) in Beijing June 6-7, 2016. The two countries pledged to continue diplomatic, law enforcement, and scientific cooperation to protect the ocean from the threats posed by global climate change, ocean acidification, unsustainable fishing, and marine pollution. The United States and China have essential leadership roles in ensuring the long-term sustainability and health of the ocean, which plays a vital role in regulating the climate and weather of our planet, provides food security and economic opportunity to much of the world’s population, and facilitates international transportation and trade.

At the S&ED, the United States and China decided to:

  • Reaffirm support for the establishment of a marine protected area (MPA) in Antarctica’s Ross Sea.
  • Jointly combat illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing, including by strengthening cooperation under bilateral frameworks and in regional fisheries management organizations and relevant international organizations.
  • Exchange information about the UN Food and Agricultural Organization Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter, and Eliminate IUU Fishing. This landmark agreement, which the United States ratified on February 10, 2016 and which entered into force June 5, 2016, sets out simple but effective measures in ports to block foreign vessels that seek to land illegally-caught fish. The more ports worldwide that refuse to accept illegally-caught fish, the harder it is for those engaged in IUU fishing to land their catch and access port services such as refueling.
  • Work together and with other relevant governments to complete negotiation of an agreement to prevent unregulated commercial fishing in the high seas area of the central Arctic Ocean.
  • Continue developing the rules of behavior on surface to surface encounters between the United States Coast Guard and the China Coast Guard, and support in principle the development of a document of cooperation between the two coast guards.
  • Enhance scientific cooperation on ocean acidification, particularly in the Arctic, consistent with the Global Ocean Acidification Observing Network and the Pacific Arctic Group.
  • Explore opportunities for understanding ocean climate dynamics in the Indian, Southern, and Pacific Oceans to observe, understand, and predict climate variability and change.
  • Pursue plans to set up “Sister MPA” partnerships between MPAs in waters under national jurisdiction of the United States and China in order to exchange best practices on MPA science, monitoring, and management.
  • Advance our marine debris sister cities partnership.
  • Cooperate in multilateral and bilateral channels to build on the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation common view as an approach to advance sustainable management and conservation of ocean and coastal resources and ecosystems and sustainable development in order to foster economic growth.

The United States welcomed China’s announcement that it would participate at a senior level in the 2016 Our Ocean conference, to be held in Washington, D.C. September 15-16, 2016. The first two Our Ocean conferences resulted in pledges of over $4 billion toward ocean conservation and commitments to safeguard almost six million square kilometers of the ocean in MPAs.

The United States and China will continue to cooperate on ocean issues in the lead up to the September 4-5, 2016 G20 Leaders’ Summit in China, the 2016 Our Ocean conference, and beyond.

Learn more about U.S. and Chinese leadership on ocean issues by following us on Twitter @StateDeptOES. For media inquiries, please contact Sara Ferchichi at FerchichiSM@state.gov.

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