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SUVA, 23 February 2018: In November 2017, following COP23, Samoa became the first UN member nation to sign the Marine Arctic Peace Sanctuary (MAPS) Treaty which is intended to be an international treaty addendum to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. The PIDF Secretariat congratulates the government of Samoa for this important engagement.

MAPS declares the Arctic Ocean north of the Arctic Circle an international peace park, free from exploitation of all kinds, in perpetuity, stopping all activity in the Arctic Ocean that harms the melting polar ice, and ensures the regeneration of this essential polar ecosystem.

In a recently published article it has been ominously revealed that the world’s sea ice shrank to a record January low last month as the annual polar melting period expanded. The 5.04 million square miles of ice in the Arctic was 525,000 square miles below the 1981-to-2010 ice cover average, making it the lowest January total in satellite records, according to the US National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC).

The news comes just days after researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder said the rate at which sea levels are rising was increasing every year, driven mostly by accelerated melting in Greenland and Antarctica.

To stabilize the planet’s climate and sea levels we need to protect the earth’s very own cooling system – the Arctic ice-cap. Preserving the Arctic Ocean and ice-cap, and realizing the Marine Arctic Peace Sanctuary (MAPS) will protect Pacific Island communities from the dangers of climate change, in particular the pervasive effects of sea-level rise and disappearing islands.

“In line with the Suva Declaration, a complete moratorium on harmful human activity in the Arctic Ocean is the only way to protect the air conditioner of the planet without making the climate situation worse”, said PIDF Secretary General Martel.

“It is an essential intervention in the climate crisis we face and supporting this initiative will contribute to the fight against the effects of climate change, such as disappearing islands”.

At the COP23 in Bonn, there was a remarkable degree of receptivity to MAPS and Parvati.org, an all-volunteer team dedicated to having MAPS declared by all world governments shared information about MAPS in a PIDF side-event at the COP23 on “Disappearing Islands” and also engagement with other key Pacific Islands representatives.

The MAPS Treaty is one of the 1,400 commitments that is part of the SDG14 Ocean Conference Call for Action.

“I encourage PIDF Member States to maintain leadership on both Oceans and Climate Change and accede to the MAPS Treaty at the earliest opportunity”, concluded Secretary General Martel.

MAPS takes effect through the international MAPS Treaty, which has been translated into all official UN languages and provided to all 193 UN member states and shared with officials at COP21, COP22 and COP23. All States members of the United Nations or any of the specialized agencies are eligible to become signatories.