Marine mammals hold their breath in anticipation of this week’s Antarctic Conservation meeting in Hobart
Decision makers from around the world are coming together to decide the fate of two uniquely important areas of Antarctica’s oceans.
There are two proposals – one put forward by Australia, France and the EU for protection of East Antarctica, home to a large number of the southern hemisphere’s penguins, seals and whales. The other proposed by NZ and the USA, for the Ross Sea, one of the most intact ecosystems left on the planet. You can find out more about the proposals from a European Commission Q&A.
Both proposals are based on sound science and have enormous public support around the world. Both have been years in preparation but were vetoed unexpectedly by Russia at the last intergovernmental meeting (CCAMLR) in Germany in July.
But hopes are still alive that an agreement can be reached. This week the proponent governments demonstrated a united approach for the coming meeting with the release of a joint statement saying:
“The Ross Sea and East Antarctica regions are widely recognized for their remarkable ecological and scientific importance. We call on all Members of the Commission to bring years of preparation to a successful conclusion by establishing these important, science-based MPAs at the next session of the Commission in October 2013 in Hobart, Australia. "
IFAW and its coalition partners in the Antarctic Ocean Alliance are urging all governments at the meeting to do the right thing; create a lasting Antarctic legacy and support strong, permanent protection for both East Antarctica and the Ross Sea. The meeting operates by consensus rather than voting and will conclude on Friday.
We’re holding our breath too.
You can join the global movement to protect the Antarctic marine environment by signing the Antarctic Ocean Alliance petition here.