A landmark opportunity for the Antarctic`s Southern Ocean?



Posted on 12 July 2013  | 
More than 200,000 Antarctic blue whales used to live in the Southern Ocean – but 20th Century whaling decimated this population and latest estimates put this population at just around 2,300 animals.
More than 200,000 Antarctic blue whales used to live in the Southern Ocean – but 20th Century whaling decimated this population and latest estimates put this population at just around 2,300 animals.
© naturepl.com/Mark Brownlow/WWFEnlarge
Bremerhaven, Germany: The Antarctic Ocean Alliance (AOA) and its partners say the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) has a landmark opportunity to protect the Antarctic`s Southern Ocean this week.

CCAMLR members will decide the fate of two key proposals for Antarctic marine protection, either of which would create the world’s largest marine protected rea (MPA) if designated.

“Marine protected areas promote scientific research in Antarctica and ensure the regions ocean resources are well managed for future generations,” said Bob Zuur, WWF’s Antarctic and Southern Ocean Initiative. 

“Antarctica’s ocean is the least protected on Earth.  We ask CCAMLR to act on the best available scientific evidence and create these critical protected areas.”

The special CCAMLR meeting has been called because the Commission couldn’t come to a consensus on the two proposals at its meeting in October 2012.

The United States and New Zealand propose that CCAMLR designate a Ross Sea MPA of 2.3 million Km2. The Ross Sea is often referred to as the last ocean because it is one of the only large ocean habitats that is still relatively intact and home to a dazzling array of marine wildlife.

A second proposal from Australia, France and the European Union would designate seven marine protected areas in East Antarctica covering about 1.63 million Km2.

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 AOA partners are attending the CCAMLR meeting in Bremerhaven working to ensure CCAMLR delegates step up to the challenge and designate the Ross Sea and East Antarctic proposals.

“The world is watching the outcome of this CCAMLR meeting,” said Steve Campbell, Campaign Director of the Antarctic Ocean Alliance, a group of more than 30 environmental organizations. “The Southern Ocean is a global commons like no other and protecting these vital marine habitats would benefit all of us, now and in the future.”

More than 200,000 Antarctic blue whales used to live in the Southern Ocean – but 20th Century whaling decimated this population and latest estimates put this population at just around 2,300 animals.
More than 200,000 Antarctic blue whales used to live in the Southern Ocean – but 20th Century whaling decimated this population and latest estimates put this population at just around 2,300 animals.
© naturepl.com/Mark Brownlow/WWF Enlarge
Iceberg, Antarctic Ocean
© Wim van Passel / WWF-Canon Enlarge

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