Press Release: Global Efforts to Protect Southern Ocean Blocked by China and Russia
HOBART, 31 October 2014 – The Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) has again failed to agree to protect key areas in the Ross Sea and East Antarctica at its annual meeting in Hobart due to blocking by China and Russia. The partners of the Antarctic Ocean Alliance (AOA) said that this failure to reach consensus for the fourth time calls into question CCAMLR’s ability to deliver on its conservation commitments.
Two proposals for the protection of the Ross Sea and East Antarctic coastal region were on the table at this week’s meeting, but final consensus from the 24 nations and the EU that make up CCAMLR membership was actively blocked by China and Russia.
“It is appalling that while the majority of CCAMLR Members are more than ready to create significant marine protection in Antarctic waters, China and Russia have again blocked all efforts to negotiate a successful outcome,” said Mark Epstein, Executive Director of the Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition (ASOC). “We commend the efforts of the United States, New Zealand, Australia, the European Union and France during the last four years to promote solid Antarctic marine protected proposals in Antarctica, and we hope they continue to demand the urgent protection required for Southern Ocean ecosystems. Despite the continuing challenges, it has been encouraging to see the strong support for the MPAs from fishing countries like Korea and Norway, which we welcome.”
“The question of whether CCAMLR can deliver on its conservation mandate is in very serious doubt after another disappointing failure at this year’s meeting,” said Richard Page, Greenpeace. “This year's failure denigrates the reputation of CCAMLR and is symptomatic of a dangerous global trend where geopolitical interests override any genuine efforts to protect the oceans for the sake of future generations."
“Since 1959, Antarctica has been recognized as a special place for peace and science. It is regrettable that CCAMLR, faced with the objections from Russia and China, cannot live up to that promise,” said Andrea Kavanagh, who directs Pew’s efforts to protect penguins and the Southern Ocean. “Another year of inaction means another year that these near-pristine waters and their remarkable biodiversity are open to the threat of industrial fishing. The proposed designations would have ensured the long-term protection of many species, including penguins, seals and whales.”
A joint US-NZ proposal to designate a Ross Sea MPA of 1.32 million km2 (with 1.25 million km2 area proposed as “no take”) was under consideration. The Ross Sea is often referred to as “The Last Ocean” due to its status as one of the most pristine oceans remaining on earth.
Australia, France and the EU once again proposed an MPA to protect 1.2 million km2 of East Antarctic waters. Their proposal would allow for exploratory and research activities within the MPA if they are consistent with the maintenance of the MPA’s objectives.
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 remarkable Antarctic toothfish – the main target of fishing companies in the region. The Southern Ocean is a crucial area for scientific research, both for studying how intact marine ecosystems function and for determining the impacts of global climate change.
More than 1.4 million people around the world have joined the global call for large-scale marine protection in Antarctica over the last three years and thousands have taken action through online petitions, social media and emails to key world leaders to call for protection.
The Antarctic Ocean Alliance partners will continue to press the countries failing to support Southern Ocean marine protected areas and will attend the next CCAMLR meeting in Hobart in 2015 to ensure that CCAMLR delivers on its conservation commitments. The AOA has identified around 40% of the Southern Ocean that warrants protection.
Dae Levine, AOA Communications Director
+61448801044, in Hobart
Barb Cvrkel, Pew,
+1 202 510 5670, in Hobart
Mona Samari, AOA:
+44 (0) 7515 828 939, in London
Dave Walsh, Antarctic & Southern Ocean Coalition,
+32493140966, in Brussels
Richard Page, Greenpeace:
, +44 7801212966, in Hobart
Bob Zuur, WWF:
, +64 27 444 3210, in Hobart
Audio files with spokespeople from AOA in English, Russian, Chinese, French, Spanish and Japanese, as well as AOA’s current reports, images of the “Penguin Delegation” at CCAMLR, and explanatory MPA infographic are available at: http://bit.ly/1nUiIZ4
The Antarctic Ocean Alliance is a coalition of high-profile individuals and some 30 leading environmental groups. These include The Pew Charitable Trusts, Greenpeace, WWF, Humane Society International, the Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition (ASOC), The Blue Marine Foundation (UK), Mission Blue (US), Oceans 5 (US), Deep Wave (Germany), Whale and Dolphin Conservation (Germany), The Last Ocean, the Korean Federation for Environmental Movement (KFEM), Greenovation Hub (China), Forest & Bird (NZ), ECO (NZ), Friends of the Earth Japan and associate partners the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Oceana, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and Ocean Planet (Australia).
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Protect Antarctica's Ocean Now
by Antarctic Ocean Alliance
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The Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) is meeting now in Hobart to decide the fate of the Antarctic ocean.
Will 2014 be the year that CCAMLR members show international leadership and meet their long held promise to establish a system of Marine Protected Areas? This is the question on everyone’s minds as we gather for the 33rd meeting of CCAMLR. The assembled NGOs and hundreds of thousands of supporters around the world call for action through the designation of the two existing proposals (East Antarctica and Ross Sea). More importantly we ask individual member states to consider their responsibility for success, or failure, to protect this pristine ocean area.
CCAMLR committed in 2009, by consensus, to establish a system of Marine Protected Areas in the Southern Ocean by its meeting in 2012. This was not achieved despite the best intentions of many. Since that point there have been a number of opportunities for the international community to make progress, but the negotiations have mostly resembled a slow retreat. It is time to rekindle the urgency, and achieve a strong and effective solution in 2014.
The opportunity that CCAMLR members have this year is enormous. Here’s what could be achieved:
- Enduring protection for ecosystems that are the life support for 10,000 incredible species,
- The opportunity to create a living laboratory for the world’s scientists.
- The opportunity to establish long-term ecosystems alongside fisheries management,
- The opportunity to strengthen resilience against the growing impacts of climate change and ocean acidification on the earth’s natural processes,
- The opportunity to live up to CCAMLR’s conservation objectives,
- The opportunity to honour commitments made at the CBD and WSSD,
- The opportunity to live up to the Antarctic Treaty’s central promise of establishing a natural reserve for peace and science.
Over the years, the science that supports the two current proposals has been well established. The very reasonable questions that many members have had about science, process, legal authority and vessel access have been answered. And the call for “the spirit of compromise” has already been fulfilled.
The maps that we present here show the erosion of the proposals over time. Compared with the original vision of the NGO community, each successive step in the process has contributed to the proposals being eroded or made less coherent. It is clear that no more compromise is necessary, as every possible compromise has already been made. In fact, we argue strongly for the MPAs to be strengthened in the years to come, as well as the designation of new areas.
We welcome the work that is underway now to establish marine protection in the Weddell Sea and the Antarctic Peninsula and support the countries engaged in those studies. But if CCAMLR members are to move forward with credibility and coherence, then clear and visionary decisions need to be made by the 31st of October 2014.
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