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Antarctic marine sanctuary plan prevented by Russia

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On July 15 and July 16, 2013, delegates from the Commission for the Conservation of the Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) met in Bremerhaven, Germany to discuss a proposal that would create the world’s largest marine sanctuary. If the proposal succeeded, it would have doubled the world’s current protected marine area.

Two separate proposals were on the table; one developed by New Zealand and the United States and the second created by Australia, France and the European Union. Both called for the creation of protected ocean areas off the coast of Antarctica. If successful, the proposals would have developed “non-fishing zones covering 3.2m sqkm of ocean in the Ross Sea and off the East Antarctic coastline.”

In order for the Marine Protected Areas (MPA) to be created, the commission would have to reach a unanimous agreement from all 25 delegate states. However, the Russian delegation “questioned the organization’s legal mandate to create” the MPA and resulted in the proposal’s termination.

According to Steve Campbell, campaign director of the Antarctic Ocean Alliance, Russia previously agreed to these proposals designating the large reserve. He further stated:

It's a very odd objection, because CCAMLR clearly has the legal authority to establish MPAs…But not only does it have the procedure, CCAMLR has already designated a large-scale MPA in the South Orkney Islands in 2009.

Likewise, Andrea Kavanagh, Pew Charitable Trust Southern Ocean sanctuaries director, added:

Russia now seems to have forgotten that the mandate of CCAMLR is actually the conservation of Antarctic marine living resources, not the over-exploitation of resources.

There has been no comment from Russia as of yet. Still, this proposal is not dead in the water. The CCAMLR’s annual meeting will be held in October at Hobart, Australia. It was decided that further discussions will continue among the delegates until that time, at which the proposal for the world’s largest MPA will be presented again.

Please feel free to leave a comment about Russia’s objection to the proposed Antarctic MPA. If you would like to receive alerts for future articles published on New Haven Environmental News, please subscribe here. Also, you are welcome to join me on Facebook.

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