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23, Oct, 2012

Antarctic Ocean Alliance calls on CCAMLR Delegates to seize opportunity for unprecedented marine protection


Category: Antarctic Ocean Alliance

HOBART, 23 October 2012 – The Antarctic Ocean Alliance (AOA) called on Members of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) to seize the opportunity to establish unprecedented marine protection in the Southern Ocean as its two-week meeting begins today in Hobart, Tasmania.

CCAMLR, made up of 24 countries and the European Union, will be considering proposals for two critical areas in the Southern Ocean at their meeting

(1)   Protection for the Ross Sea region via two different proposals from the United States and New Zealand, the most intact ocean ecosystem left on earth;

(2)   Protection for 1.9 million square kilometres of coastal area in the East Antarctic via a proposal from Australia, France and the European Union.

Bilateral and multilateral international negotiations have been underway for months.

“There is hope that large-scale East Antarctic protection may get support and we strongly encourage CCAMLR to show real leadership to ensure that happens,” said AOA Campaign Director Steve Campbell from Hobart.

“The unique Ross Sea region faces political challenges, but we sincerely hope that the US and NZ will resolve their differences and agree a joint proposal that would protect the most important habitats there.  Neither the US nor NZ proposals are good enough to comprehensively protect this unique ecosystem so both countries will need to put more on the table in a joint proposal.”

“It's vital that New Zealand comes to this negotiation with an open mind.  Even the current United States proposal provides fishing opportunities for New Zealand and other fishing nations in the south of the Ross Sea region. A hard-line stance aimed at protecting New Zealand's fishing interests at all costs will likely bring failure at this meeting.”

Last week, the AOA launched its report “Antarctic Ocean Legacy: Protection for the East Antarctic Coastal Region”, that supports a proposal from Australia, France and the EU for East Antarctic marine protection but also calls for additional important areas to be included in future, such as the Prydz Gyre, the Cosmonaut Polynya, and the East India seamounts.

“Earlier this year, the AOA’s Ross Sea report called for 3.6 million square kilometres in this magnificent region to be fully protected,” Campbell said. “We now call on all members to set aside short-term economic interests and support these conservation measures in Antarctica’s waters as this is likely our last chance to protect this near-pristine ocean region.”

“There is huge support from people around the world for their nations to grasp this opportunity and protect this near-pristine ocean region this year, while we still can,” he said. “Protecting the East Antarctic coastal region, Ross Sea and the retreating ice-shelves would be a great start to show that, in fact, it can and should be done for the benefit of all of the world.”

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Notes to Editors

All of the 30 organisations that make up the AOA have been working together for more than a year to encourage CCAMLR Members to support the establishment of the world’s largest network of marine reserves and marine protected areas (MPAs) in Southern Ocean. These organisations include the Pew Environment Group, WWF, Greenpeace, Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition (ASOC), Humane Society International and the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW).

The remote East Antarctic coastal region is home to a significant number of the Southern Ocean’s penguins, seals and whales. It also contains rare and unusual seafloor and oceanographic features, which support high biodiversity. The amazing Ross Sea is a unique habitat for an array of species including the long-lived Antarctic toothfish, which is facing fishing pressure from vessels flagged to New Zealand, Korea, the United Kingdom and Spain, among others.    

Antarctic marine ecosystems are under increasing pressure. Growing global demand for seafood means greater interest in the Southern Ocean’s resources, while climate change is affecting the habitats and abundance of important food sources for penguins, whales, seals and birds.

Contact:

Blair Palese, AOA Communications Director: +0414 659 511, blair@antarcticocean.org.

www.antarcticocean.org, Twitter: #JointheWatch, #Antarcticocean, Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Antarctic-Ocean-Alliance/233933866663875?fref=ts.

Background:

1)      The AOA’s research has identified over 40% of the Southern Ocean that warrants protection in a network of large-scale marine reserves and MPAs, based on the combination of existing marine protected areas, areas identified within previous conservation and planning analyses and including additional key environmental habitats described in the AOA’s report – which can be seen at: http://antarcticocean.org/pdf/circum/11241-AOA-Circumpolar-Report-FINAL.pdf.

2)      The AOA is campaigning for CCAMLR to adopt its ‘Vision for Circumpolar Protection’ while this unique marine environment is still largely intact. CCAMLR has agreed to create a network of marine protected areas in some of the ocean around Antarctica this year but the size and scale is still under debate.

3)      CCAMLR is a consensus body that meets with limited public participation and no media access. The AOA believes that, without public attention during the process, only minimal protection will be achieved. It has launched the ‘Join the Watch’ campaign focused on CCAMLR, which now has more than 165,000 participants from around the world.

4)      Antarctic waters make up almost 10% of the world’s seas and are some of the most intact environments left on earth. They are home to almost 10,000 unique and diverse species such as penguins, seals and whales.

 

More information:

Full reports: To view or download the full AOA East Antarctic report:

http://antarcticocean.org/antarctic-ocean-legacy-protection-for-the-east-antarctic-coastal-region/

AOA’s Circumpolar Report with map of all areas proposed for protection:

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

 

Video and Photos: A video news release and b-roll are available at:http://www.reru.com.au/Mediafiles/Antarctic_Ocean_Alliance/Videos/.

High resolution photos available for media via the AOA’s Blair Palese, details above.