Antarctic Ocean Wilderness Left Vulnerable

30 October 2015 | World Wildlife Fund UK News Release

WWF expressed disappointment as the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) failed to reach consensus, for the fifth time, to adopt large scale Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in the Southern Ocean today.

CCAMLR also failed to agree on a forward-looking EU initiative to bring into force a 10 year moratorium on fisheries in newly exposed pristine marine areas following the collapse of Antarctic ice shelves. The Antarctic Peninsula is one of the fastest warming places on earth. This would enable critical science into how new species colonise marine areas, and how new biological communities develop.

Together, the two proposed MPAs and the Special Areas for Scientific Research would help to conserve Antarctica’s charismatic species including whales, penguins and seals. These areas could also be critical for scientific research and for increasing resilience to climate change.

Despite the best efforts of the UK and other members to help build consensus on these conservation proposals, there are still nations within CCAMLR that prioritise fishing above conservation – contrary to the objectives of CCAMLR.

However, 11th hour negotiations resulted in renewed hope, as it emerged that international support was increasing for the Ross Sea and potentially East Antarctica MPAs.

Speaking as CCAMLR concluded its annual meeting in Hobart, Tasmania today, WWF’s Polar Programme Manager Rod Downie said:

“MPAs have proved to be a success in protecting wildlife and boosting the productivity of oceans around the world. CCAMLR, once a shining light in marine conservation, now has some catching up to do.

“Although we are disappointed that CCAMLR has once again been unable to reach consensus on the protection of the Ross Sea and East Antarctica this year, WWF is encouraged that some progress was made towards agreement of the MPAs at next year’s meeting.

“Failing to agree a moratorium on fisheries in newly exposed marine areas following the collapse of ice shelves will also make it harder to carry out vital research on marine communities, and respond to global climate change.

“WWF is calling upon all governments that participate in CCAMLR to continue to find common ground next year and build consensus to deliver comprehensive protection for this unique ocean wilderness”.

WWF will work in key countries to identify ways to break this deadlock and ensure that the region is afforded the protection it needs.

Background
The Commission, which is made up of 24 nations and the European Union, has considered the proposals for marine protection in the Ross Sea and East Antarctica five times over the past four years after previously committing to a system of marine protected areas by 2012.

For further information, please contact:

Oliver Fry, Political Media Relations Manager
ofry@wwf.org.uk
T: +44 (0)1483 412280
M: +44 (0)7855 456 453


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