ASOC Statement, November 1, 2013

ASOC closing intervention

November 1, 2013

ASOC – on behalf the millions of people around the world who are supporters of our 25 member groups and the Antarctic Ocean Alliance’s 30 members – is very sad today.  In this context, ASOC also represents the tens of millions of creatures which depend on CCAMLR to make rational decisions to protect their home – the Antarctic Marine Ecosystem.  They do not get a vote here.

Despite all the challenges with this MPA process in the past two years, ASOC came to Hobart with full faith that we would leave here with meaningful outcomes for the Ross Sea and East Antarctica. The proponents and most Member countries have worked hard to get a positive result here and we thank them for it.

As NGOs, we weren’t always happy with the changes to the original proposals, which were made in an effort to gain consensus.  You’ve all seen the AOA reports and maps outlining our ambitions. However, we believed that CCAMLR Members would, in the end, honor their commitments and make the right decision to designate important MPAs to conserve East Antarctic and Ross Sea ecosystems for generations to come. It was encouraging to see that most Members have been supportive of MPAs at this meeting. It was discouraging to see that a few Members are not ready to follow up on their earlier commitments. Once again we leave the meeting with no new MPAs.

ASOC cannot quite understand how CCAMLR has arrived at this position. The decision to establish a network of MPAs in the Southern Ocean was made by consensus. Setting a 2012 target for the initial network was made by consensus. CM 91-04 creating the framework for designating MPAs was made by consensus.  These steps imply that all CCAMLR Members are prepared to carry out the commitments.

But the sad reality is that not all Members are prepared to act. It has been claimed that the proposals before us do not contain sufficient scientific justifications, but they are based on years, decades of science.  Some complain that these MPAs interfere too much with fishing.  ASOC is not against fishing, but the MPAs have different goals, consistent with the original objectives of CCAMLR.  This creates a perverse situation where designating MPAs requires more evidence that than opening a fishery.

CCAMLR has always prided itself as being more than just another RFMO. Are we to conclude that the second “C” in CCAMLR stands for something other than “conservation”?   Perhaps it should be the “Convention for the Consumption of Antarctic Marine Living Resources?”

We hope that delegates go home and reflect on the legacy they want CCAMLR to leave behind. Will it be one of failure, or one of success?  We note that other important proposals for MPAs are being developed for other areas – the Weddell Sea, Amundsen Sea, Del Cano and Scotia Sea.  This logjam must be broken.  Countries can’t invest forever in proposals – the proponents have invested lots of money, time and scientific work.  CCAMLR can’t meet its commitments if we keep operating like this.

ASOC calls on all Members to renew their will and return to Hobart next year ready to achieve consensus on both of these proposals.  That will leave a legacy for future generations of real value, as well as restoring CCAMLR to a position of leadership in marine conservation.

Antarctic & Southern Ocean Coalition