Soon a marine sanctuary in Antarctica?

A huge marine sanctuary in the Antarctic Ocean could be created if the negotiations, revived by Australia and France, lead to an agreement before 27 October. The 25 members of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) are meeting in Hobart on the Australian island of Tasmania for their annual summit. By 2016, a consensus had been reached on the creation of the largest marine sanctuary in the world in the Ross Sea, covering over 1.55 million square kilometers, a larger area than France, Italy,

The 25 members of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) are meeting in Hobart on the Australian island of Tasmania for their annual summit. By 2016, a consensus had been reached on the creation of the largest marine sanctuary in the world in the Ross Sea, covering over 1.55 million square kilometers, a larger area than France, Italy, Benelux, Germany, Switzerland, and Austria together. This project was presented by New Zealand and the United States.
However, CCAMLR failed to reach consensus on a second project, presented by France and Australia, on a Marine Protected Area (MPA) covering one million square kilometers in eastern Antarctica. “Deciding this year on the creation of an MPA in eastern Antarctica would truly make it possible to move towards the goal of an entire network of MPAs in 2020,” said Andrea Kavanagh, Antarctica within the NGO Pew Charitable Trusts.

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Russia and China block consensus

MPAs are, according to CCAMLR’s definition, marine areas in which natural resources are fully or partially protected. The objectives are to protect marine species, biodiversity, habitat, feeding areas, and nurseries, and in some cases to preserve historic and cultural sites. The project to create a network of MPAs in the Antarctic Ocean dates back to 2009. However, the negotiations for its creation have been laborious, due in particular to the blockages of China and Russia on the issue of fishing rights. A third project put forward by Germany is also under discussion. It is on the Weddell Sea. Argentina and Chile are expected to advance a fourth project of 94,000 square kilometers in the western Antarctic Peninsula in the southern Scotian Arc.
The Antarctic Ocean, which accounts for 15% of the surface of the oceans, is home to exceptional ecosystems, rich in more than 10 000 unique species, largely preserved from human activities but threatened by the development of fishing and navigation. CCAMLR brings together 24 states and the European Union. Based in Hobart, it makes decisions by consensus.

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