17, Nov, 2010

Little progress at Antarctic marine meeting

Category: ECO Inc


Little progress at Antarctic marine meeting

November 5, 2010 – Hobart, Australia: The Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition (ASOC), a global coalition of conservation NGOs, is extremely disappointed by the failure of the Commission on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) to make substantive progress on key conservation issues at this year’s meeting. Many important substantive issues were on the agenda for this year’s meeting, including managing the rapidly expanding Antarctic krill fishery, implementing strong measures to combat illegal fishing, making progress on the designation of a representative system of marine protected areas (MPAs) in the Southern Ocean, and addressing the recommendations of an independent performance review. However, member governments could not achieve the necessary consensus required to implement several important proposals.

Despite having agreed a goal of 2012 for designating a large network of MPAs in the Southern Ocean, CCAMLR members failed to make the substantial progress needed at this year’s meeting. A proposal that would have set down the guiding principles for establishing MPAs was not agreed, although time is growing short for CCAMLR to meet the 2012 goal.

“In the face of the increasing threats facing the Southern Ocean, including those posed by climate change and ocean acidification, establishing a representative system of Marine Protected Areas and marine reserves is absolutely crucial. CCAMLR lacks a real sense of urgency,” said Richard Page, Greenpeace Oceans Campaigner. “We hope that next year CCAMLR can make faster and stronger advances in support of its conservation objectives and the long term sustainability of Antarctic marine ecosystems,” said Verónica Cirelli, science adviser for Fundación Vida Silvestre Argentina.

ASOC hopes that CCAMLR’s agreement to have a special meeting on marine protected areas in France next year will ensure that necessary progress occurs.

ASOC also welcomes actions taken this year to improve the management of the krill fishery including mandating the participation of krill fishing vessels in a centralized vessel monitoring system, increased focus on research and raising the percentage of scientific observers on board. An important source of uncertainty in the management of the krill fishery is related to the need to obtain updated information on krill biomass. In that context, ASOC was encouraged by the decision by Norway to commit vessel time for the next five years to conduct research. Nevertheless, the vast majority of krill fishing is concentrated in coastal areas where predators typically forage. The rapid increase in total catches over the past year and the concentration of krill fishing highlight the need to establish further protective measures to ensure krill remains available for land based predators, such as penguins and seals. Despite these warnings, CCAMLR was unable to enact any significant protective measures, thus allowing the concentration of fishing to continue.

“While we appreciate the improvements agreed at this year’s CCAMLR meeting,” said Gerald Leape, Director, Antarctic Krill Conservation Project, “we are disappointed that other significant actions on illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, including port state measures and market measures were not agreed.” IUU fishing undermines CCAMLR’s precautionary, ecosystem-based approach to management and often employs more destructive fishing methods that harm vulnerable species and ecosystems.

CCAMLR prides itself on its reputation as an international commission that conserves and manages marine resources effectively through the tools embodied in the Convention; however that reputation has to be earned every year. With its continued delays in addressing the recommendations from the independent review of its performance, CCAMLR is tarnishing that reputation.

For more information contact:

Jim Barnes, ASOC: Cell: +33 6 7418 1994 / +1 202 413 0614
E-mail: james.barnes@asoc.org
Gerry Leape, Pew Charitable Trusts: Cell: +1 202 431 3938
E-mail: GLeape@pewtrusts.org
Rob Nicoll, WWF: Cell +61 438 938764
E-mail: rnicoll@wwf.org.au
Richard Page, Greenpeace International: Cell: +44 780 1212966
E-mail: richard.page@uk.greenpeace.org
Rodolfo Werner, Pew Charitable Trusts: Cell: +54 2944 441 277
E-mail: rodolfo.antarctica@gmail.com

Background information:

• CCAMLR was established in 1982 by the Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources to conserve the marine resources of the Southern Ocean. The Convention requires an ecosystem-based, precautionary approach to management of Southern Ocean resources and has been signed by 25 countries. Decisions within CCAMLR require agreement from all signatories.

• ASOC is a global coalition of over 30 conservation and environmental organizations that has been working since 1978 to protect Antarctica and the surrounding Southern Ocean. • Many CCAMLR Members have acceded to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) Port State Measures Agreement, but they did not agree to measures that would have brought CCAMLR’s IUU regulations into line with those of the FAO Agreement.

• The lack of progress on measures on IUU fishing is especially disappointing given that new data presented at the meeting that the level of IUU fishing in the CCAMLR area is higher than previously thought. IUU fishing undermines CCAMLR’s precautionary, ecosystem-based approach to management and often employs more destructive fishing methods that harm vulnerable species and ecosystems.

• Krill catches have increased by seventy percent over last year to over 210,000 tonnes, and reports indicate that interest is growing in the krill fishery and that several nations have planned to increase their capacity to fish for Antarctic krill.

• An independent body conducted a performance review of CCAMLR in 2008 and identified numerous areas in which CCAMLR needed to take further action to ensure that management of Southern Ocean fisheries is truly precautionary and provides comprehensive protection to Antarctic ecosystems. CCAMLR has discussed many of these recommendations but has taken action on only a handful.