Negotiations result in missed opportunity for the Antarctic
The Antarctic Ocean Alliance, of which WWF is a member, today called the Russian delegation’s blocking of proposals for large ocean sanctuaries in Antarctic waters, “an extraordinary missed opportunity for the global marine environment.”
The special meeting of the 25 members of the Commission for the Conservation on Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) was specifically tasked to consider two proposals to protect areas of the Ross Sea and East Antarctica.
'It is indeed regrettable and worrying that CCMALR has not seized the opportunity to put in place large-scale ocean protection,” said John Tanzer, WWF International Marine Director.
“This was a clear opportunity for action which has been missed. The oceans are under increasing pressure and urgent action to protect critical and vulnerable areas like the Antarctic is required. There is no good reason to postpone these actions and a great deal is at stake here,” he added.
The two proposals that CCAMLR failed to pass were a joint US-New Zealand proposal to designate a Ross Sea MPA of 2.3 million Km2, including a fully protected area of 1.6 million Km2; and a proposal from Australia, France and the European Union that would designate a cluster of seven marine protected areas in East Antarctica, covering about 1.63 million Km2.
“WWF is incredibly disappointed that CCAMLR missed this opportunity to protect the home of more than 10,000 species including seabirds, whales, seals and most of the world’s penguins,” said Bob Zuur, Manager, WWF Antarctic and Southern Ocean Initiative.
“Antarctica’s ocean is one of the most vulnerable on Earth. We urge CCAMLR to create these critical protected areas at the next meeting in October.”
The Southern Ocean is critical for scientific research, both for studying how intact marine ecosystems function and for determining the impacts of global climate change.
“WWF has contributed significantly to the science that supports these proposals. We are looking forward to further engagement in the next meetings in Hobart, " said Zuur.
"We hope that the Russian delegation will work in the spirit of international cooperation to realise this historic opportunity to comprehensively protect some of the world’s most pristine environments,” he added.