- Spotlight on Species Leading Into 33rd Antarctic Marine Conference –
Sydney, Australia 17 Sept 14: The Antarctic Ocean Alliance (AOA) launched a new report today, highlighting a small sample of the thousands of resilient species that call the pristine Southern Ocean home. Thirty-three days before the 33rd annual CCAMLR meeting, the new report, “33 Species We Love and Must Protect” serves as a symbolic reminder that in order to continue research and discovery in Antarctica and protect many vulnerable and unique species, there must be commitment to preservation through enhanced protection.
“For the past three CCAMLR meetings, we have hoped for action on marine protection in Antarctica’s waters, promised by CCAMLR to have been in place by 2012. Unfortunately, there have been three years of inactivity,” said Mark Epstein, Executive Director of the Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition. “This year provides another opportunity for global leaders to live up to their promises and to take action on marine protection. The time is now. This report helps to put in perspective exactly why we are trying to achieve this. These species, along with thousands of others, are at risk.“
The Southern Ocean’s virtually pristine marine ecosystem is teeming with life. Species inhabiting Antarctica’s frigid waters, from well-known orcas, leopard seals, albatross and penguins, to lessor known species like copepods, bone-eating worms and the literal core of the Southern Ocean food web, krill, are vital to understanding its complex food web, and there is little doubt that countless species have yet to be discovered.
“As more studies detail the rate of warming in Antarctica, it is clear we need to do all we can to protect the diversity of species found on the continent and in its waters,” said Andrea Kavanagh, director of The Pew Charitable Trusts’ Antarctic conservation campaign. “Penguins, krill, and seals can’t afford another year of inaction. The best way to ensure resilience to a changing climate is to create large marine reserves that protect all species. We are looking to CCAMLR to approve the marine reserve proposals for the Ross Sea and waters off East Antarctica this year.”
Over the next 33 days, AOA will promote one highlighted species each day via AOA’s Facebook page and website. The postings will inform supporters of fascinating facts about the species covered, as well as point them toward the petition that has already collected more than 310,000 signatures in support of marine protection in the Southern Ocean. In addition, there is a web-based postcard tool that will allow supporters to email a message of support for marine protection to key decision makers around the world in the lead up to CCAMLR 33.
“Antarctica is one of the world’s last untouched wildernesses and home to thousands of highly adapted species, many of which can be found nowhere else on the planet,” said Bob Zuur, manager of WWF’s Antarctica program. “A network of large-scale, permanent marine protected areas in the Ross Sea and East Antarctica would build on the spirit of political cooperation in the Antarctic Treaty and create a lasting legacy for future generations.”
“MPAs and fully-protected marine reserves are the single most powerful tool that CCAMLR has for fulfilling its mandate and protecting the astounding array of Antarctica’s marine life and enabling the Southern Ocean ecosystem to best withstand the impacts of climate change and ocean acidification,” added Richard Page, Greenpeace Oceans Campaigner.
The Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), the consensus-based body made up of 24 countries and the European Union, will have another opportunity to create two large-scale, fully protected Southern Ocean marine reserves when they once again convene in Hobart, Tasmania, in October 2014.
The proposals up for discussion would establish reserves in the waters of the Ross Sea and East Antarctica and if agreed upon, would create some of the world’s largest marine reserves. Although CCAMLR was established to protect the Southern Ocean, these two proposals have not passed in recent years due to Russian and Ukrainian opposition.
*Notes to editors:
For media queries or to set up interviews please contact Dae Levine
or +61448801044 (Sydney based).
No-take Marine Reserves are highly protected areas that are off limits to all extractive uses including fishing. No-take Marine reserves provide the highest level of protection to all elements of the ocean ecosystem.
Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are areas where certain activities are limited or prohibited to meet specific conservation, habitat protection or fisheries management objectives.
Consensus-based decision-making does not mean that everyone must agree, but that no one can voice disagreement, which means that one member state can effectively stop a measure from going forward.
The Antarctic Ocean Alliance is a coalition of more than 30 leading environmental organisations and high-profile individuals working together to achieve large-scale protection for key Antarctic Ocean ecosystems. Alliance members include the Pew Charitable Trusts, Greenpeace, WWF, the Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition (ASOC), Humane Society International, Mission Blue (US), Oceans 5 (US), Deep Wave (Germany), The Last Ocean, Forrest & Bird (NZ), ECO (NZ), the Korean Federation for Environmental Movement (KFEM), Greenovation Hub (China), and associate partners the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Oceana, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), the International Polar Foundation (UK), Plant a Fish, the International Programme on the State of the Oceans and OceanCare (Switzerland). AOA Ambassadors include actors Leonardo DiCaprio, Edward Norton, Oceanographer Dr. Sylvia Earle, entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson, Chinese entrepreneur and explorer Wang Jing and Korean actor Yoo Ji-Tae.
Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition (ASOC) - Since 1978, the Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition (ASOC) has brought together over 200 non-government organizations working full time to preserve the Antarctic continent and its surrounding Southern Ocean.
Greenpeace - Greenpeace is the leading independent campaigning organization that uses peaceful direct action and creative communication to expose global environmental issues.
Pew Charitable Trusts - Pew Charitable Trusts work globally to establish pragmatic, science-based policies that protect our oceans, conserve our wild lands and promote the clean energy economy.
WWF - WWF works in 100 countries and is supported by 1.2 million members in the United States and close to 5 million globally. WWF’s unique way of working combines global reach with a foundation in science, involves action at every level from local to global, and ensures the delivery of innovative solutions that meet the needs of both people and nature.