Today in Hobart (Tasmania), at its annual meeting, the
Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living
Resources (CCAMLR) failed in its third attempt to adopt proposals
that would have established the world's largest marine
protected area (MPA) in Antarctica's Southern Ocean. On
the agenda were two proposals: One sponsored by
the U.S. and New Zealand to establish a 1.32 million km no-take
zone in the Ross Sea; the other was a proposal from Australia,
France and the EU for a 1.6 million km East Antarctic MPA
The proposals were the subject of an historic special meeting of CCAMLR in July held
in Germany after CCAMLR failed to reach unanimity of its members at
the 2012 annual meeting.
CCAMLR is comprised of 24 nations and the EU.
Unanimity is required to adopt any proposal concerning
preserves. Only Russia and the Ukraine actively blocked
negotiations in favor of the proposals, while China withdrew its
support for the East Antarctic MPA.
The controversy pits environmentalists, scientists
and researchers against the commercial toothfish (a/k/a
"Chilean Sea Bass") industry. In addition to
conservation efforts to protect the over 10,000 unique species that
make their home in the Southern Ocean, scientists cite the region as crucial to
studying how intact marine ecosystems function and to determine the
impacts of global climate change.
The proposals were supported by the Antarctic Ocean Alliance, the
Pew Charitable Trust, the Southern Ocean Coalition and became the
focus of several social media efforts.
The failure of the proposals leaves some questioning CCAMLR's ability to fulfill
its raison d'etre of conserving the
Antarctic marine ecosystems.
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