Antarctic marine protection area request fails
2017-10-31 11:35:01   copyfrom:    hits:

The 36th annual meetings of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources AUSTRALIATuesda

The 36th annual meetings of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources.


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Tuesday, October 31, 2017, 00:50 (GMT + 9)


A proposal to expand Antarctic marine protection area has not managed to progress in the international community due to Russian and Chinese delegates’ lack of endorsement, according to environmentalists.

The plan was proposed at the 36th annual meeting of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), which last year created the Ross Sea Marine Protected Area, Reuters reported.

At the meeting, held in Hobart, Australia, some commission members urged extending protection to a network of areas through East Antarctica’s Southern Ocean.

However, the proposal did not get the needed unanimous support as Russia and China voted against it, Andrea Kavanagh, Antarctic and Southern Ocean director at Pew Charitable Trusts, said.

Russia had agreed to last year’s Ross Sea proposal after blocking conservation efforts on five previous occasions.

Pew Charitable Trusts said extending the conservation area would have let marine life travel between reserves to breed and forage, helping to protect roughly 9,000 species not found anywhere else.

Kavanagh pointed out it was “disappointing the commission could not agree to protect more of the vast and biologically diverse Southern Ocean. For the past six years, the commission has failed to reach consensus on East Antarctic protections.”

So far, CCAMLR Member countries have passed a research and monitoring plan for the Ross Sea marine park, which is to enter into force on Decmber 1. This plan will help will help determine the effectiveness of the protected area over the next 35 years by showing if the health of the region's ecosystem is improving.

The scientists will also study the ecosystem and chart differences between protected and unprotected areas and possibly make important discoveries on individual species, such as the Antarctic toothfish, a top predator in the region and a fish with a complex life cycle that scientists have not fully understand yet.

On the other hand, the commission considered a new proposal for a reserve in the waters around the Antarctic Peninsula and is working to refine the details of a potential protected area in the Weddell Sea. Pew expects that CCAMLR will approve both proposals in coming years.

"This year, the scientific committee took an important next step—after last year's designation of the Ross Sea Region MPA—by developing a research and monitoring plan (RMP) that will be a living document to be refined throughout the duration of the MPA. The RMP will help extend the benefits of the Ross Sea protected area beyond the MPA boundaries and sets high standards for MPA designations around the world,” Kavanagh concluded.

Commercial fishing vessels trawl Antarctic waters in search of toothfish and krill, a tiny creature processed for omega 3 supplements and fish food.

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