Antarctic Ocean protection left out in the cold

Percy is devastated because his home in Antarctica's Southern Ocean has been left unprotected again.

What’s next for the animals of East Antarctica and the Ross Sea?

Global efforts were stifled once again when the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) met in Hobart recently to determine the fate of key Antarctic marine habitats.

Despite near consensus on the need for protection, Russia and the Ukraine actively blocked the two proposals put forward—one for the protection of East Antarctica and the other for the Ross Sea, one of the planet’s most intact ecosystems. China, which seemed to be behind the East Antarctic proposal, also withdrew their support in the course of the negotiations.

This is a disappointing outcome to what could have been an historic win for the animals of Antarctica.

The Southern Ocean is home to more than 10,000 unique species, including whales, penguins, giant squid and seabirds, as well as the toothfish species, which are trawled by Russia and others and lie at the heart of last week’s impasse.

The failure to agree on any steps towards protection rings alarm bells for the effectiveness of CCAMLR, the convention which governs Antarctica.

Let’s hope all parties come back to next year’s meeting with a renewed determination to make CCAMLR work in the way it should and to take the necessary steps to fulfil their agreement to set aside marine protected areas.

In the year ahead, IFAW will continue to support the Antarctic Ocean Alliance (AOA), a broad coalition of conservation groups who’ll be pressing countries for action at the next CCAMLR meeting in Hobart in 2014.

We’ll keep you posted on our progress.


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Azzedine Downes,IFAW President and CEO
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