AOA calls on CCAMLR to agree lasting Ross Sea and East Antarctica protection
The CCAMLR Scientific Committee is meeting from 21 October and the full Commission will meet from 23 October to 1 November, when decisions will be announced. This year’s CCAMLR meeting follows a special meeting in Germany in July in which the Commission could not agree on the two marine protected area (MPA) proposals on the table. All CCAMLR decisions require consensus of the Members.
A joint US-NZ proposal to designate a Ross Sea MPA of 2.3 million km2, including a "fully protected" area of 1.6 million km2 was put forward last year but did not gain full support at the German CCAMLR meeting in July. A new proposal was announced prior to the Hobart meeting with more than a 40% reduction in protected Ross Sea habitats – 1.32 million km2 with a 1.25 million km2 area proposed as no take. The AOA originally recommended full protection of 3.6 million km2 in the Ross Sea, often referred to as “The Last Ocean” as it is one of the most pristine oceans left on earth.
A second proposal from Australia, France and the EU for East Antarctic protection is also on the table to protect 1.6 million km2 designated as multiple use, in which future fishing activities would have to be approved by consensus.
“Countries are coming back to the table for a third attempt to agree on Antarctic marine reserves, and after investing significant resources over the past year studying and vetting those protections, it’s time to act,” said Andrea Kavanagh, director of The Pew Charitable Trusts’ Southern Ocean sanctuaries project. “These are among our last intact marine areas, and they deserve meaningful, permanent protection, not halfway measures.”
“Right now, the opportunity to protect the largest areas of intact ocean habitat – the Southern Ocean – is before us,” said AOA Campaign Director Steve Campbell. ”The countries that make up CCAMLR need to show real leadership to deliver on their commitments to establish a network of MPAs in Antarctica, while its key ocean ecosystems are still intact.”
"CCAMLR prides itself on a comprehensive approach to its conservation of marine life in the Southern Ocean,” said Bob Zuur, manager of WWF’s Antarctic program. “This meeting provides CCAMLR an opportunity to deliver on its promise of a system of marine protected areas and show that the Convention is not just about managing fishing."
"More than 1.3 million people around the world have joined the global call for large-scale marine protection in Antarctica," said Jim Barnes, director of the Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition (ASOC). "Agreeing on large marine protected areas in the Ross Sea and East Antarctica is a key test of whether countries honor their international commitments. The science supporting the two proposals is compelling, and it is only short-term economic gain that is blocking consensus."
“It’s time for CCAMLR to act on its conservation commitments,” said Farah Obaidullah of Greenpeace. “It’s been more than two years since these proposals were initiated and the world is watching this meeting hoping to see some real leadership at last from CCAMLR Members!”
The Southern Ocean is home to more than 10,000 unique species including most of the world’s penguins, whales, seabirds, colossal squid and the commercially targeted Antarctic toothfish. The region is critical for scientific research, both for studying how intact marine ecosystems function and for determining the impacts of global climate change.
The Antarctic Ocean Alliance partners will attend the CCAMLR meeting in Hobart, working to ensure CCAMLR delegates step up to the challenge and designate the Ross Sea and East Antarctic proposals.
WWF-Australia media contact:
Daniel Rockett, National Media Manager, +61 432 206 592, @DRock1978