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13, Jul, 2012

Alliance calls new research in “Science” an urgent wake up call


Category: Antarctic Ocean Alliance

On need for large-scale marine protection

The Antarctic Ocean Alliance (AOA) has called new research in “Science” today (1) an urgent wake up call for the body that regulates the Antarctic marine environment. The new research says that Antarctica faces serious threats from fishing, climate change and other human impacts and the AOA says it backs up its call for large-scale marine protection.

In October this year 25 countries that are part of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), will meet to discuss creating a network of marine reserves and marine protected areas in the Antarctic (2). As a first step, the AOA (3), a coalition of leading environmental and conservation organisations, including Greenpeace, WWF, International Fund for Animal Welfare and Humane Society International, is urging comprehensive protection for 19 key marine habitats, (4) including the Ross Sea and East Antarctica.

Many countries have existing interests in Antarctica’s Southern Ocean. The AOA is calling on these nations including the USA, Australia, Korea, New Zealand, France, Norway, China and others to recognise the unique opportunity to protect some of the last, most pristine marine ecosystems on Earth as an environmental legacy for future generations.

 “Antarctica’s environment has been protected from minerals exploration and we have a short window of opportunity to create additional protections for its remarkable ocean,” said the AOA’s Campaign Director Steve Campbell. “CCAMLR meets in just over 100 days and its critical that its member nations, including those fishing in these waters, to recognise this opportunity and to support large-scale protection.”

The AOA’s research has identified over 40% of the Southern Ocean in 19 habitats that warrants protection in a network of large-scale, no-take marine reserves and marine protected areas (MPAs) based on combining existing marine protected areas, areas identified within previous conservation and planning analyses and including additional key environmental habitats.

Antarctic waters are home to almost 10,000 unique and diverse species, many of which cannot be found anywhere else on the planet. This marine ecosystem is under increasing pressure due to the demand for resources and the impacts of climate change, which is impacting the environment and the life it supports.

Almost 60,000 people have joined the AOA online ‘Watch’ of CCAMLR by sending messages of support for a network of Antarctic marine reserves. In the last 10 days more than 10,000 New Zealanders have emailed their Minister of Trade and Foreign Affairs, Murray McCully, urging the New Zealand Government to support the AOA proposal for wide protection of the Ross Sea region. In addition, more than 500 scientists have supported the call for Ross Sea protection (5).

Notes to Editors:

1. “Huffington Post” coverage of the “Science” magazine article:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/12/environmental-threats-antarctica_n_1669023.html

2.  CCAMLR: http://www.ccamlr.org/

3.  The Antarctic Ocean Alliance: http://www.antarcticocean.org

4.  AOA Circumpolar Report:

http://www.antarcticocean.org/pdf/circum/11241-AOA-Circumpolar-Report-FINAL.pdf

5.  Statement of 500 scientists calling for Ross Sea protection:

http://asoc.org/storage/documents/MPAs/Ross_Sea_Scientists_Statement_October_2011.pdf.