With the support of 25 countries – including an initially reluctant Russia – it was decided this week at the meeting of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) in Hobart, Tasmania, Australia, to create one of the world’s largest marine sanctuaries: Antarctica’s Ross Sea will become a marine protected area (MPA)! It will cover 1.55 million square kilometres (roughly the size of France) of highly valuable ocean with incredible wildlife.
This great success can be related to the worldwide collaboration of many, who were engaged and campaigned for reaching this goal since many years. A big role played the Antarctic Oceans Alliance. – These wonderful news reached LT&C-members in Buenos Aires on their way to Antarctica for studying LT&C-Example South Georgia and learn about the MPA-movement proposals for the Southern Oceans. Great opportunity now to celebrate with penguins in Antarctic waters.
That all member countries have agreed to a joint USA/New Zealand proposal to establish a 1.55 million km2 area of the Ross Sea with special protection from human activities is certainly also to a large extent due to diplomatic activities in particular among New Zealand, USA, Russia and Ukraine. The NZ Herald calls it a “major diplomatic coup for New Zealand”. Their Foreign Affairs Minister McCully said “New Zealand has played a leading role in reaching this agreement which makes a significant contribution to global marine protection”. The newspaper states further: “McCully lobbied his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov on the issue during a recent trip to Moscow. United States Secretary of State John Kerry – who has a strong interest in marine protected areas – also played a role in convincing Russia of the merits of the MPA. McCully underlined the significance of getting Russia to agree with a US-backed initiative during a low point in the two countries’ relations because of conflicts in the Middle East.”
However, certainly many have contributed to this success story and can now celebrate. LT&C-penguin Ricardo Roura, who is since long time engaged in lobbying for Antarctic MPAs, made it to his project to obtain explicit support from the Antarctic tourism industry (individual operators and/or the industry association at large) for the establishment of Marine Protected Areas in the Southern Ocean that surrounds Antarctica. He therefore published the issue also as an LT&C-Initative. It will be interesting to assess in more detail how much in the end supporting activities from individual tourists or the tourism industry, such as IAATO, have plaid a role for the final decision on the Ross Sea MPA, and whether it can therefore also be described as an LT&C-Example. And there is more to do to achieve actually a complete ring of MPAs around the continent Antarctica…
I have excellent news. I am writing to you from Hobart where decision-makers have just united to create the world’s largest marine protected area in Antarctica’s Ross Sea.
The Ross Sea is the healthiest marine ecosystem on the planet, teeming with penguins, seals and killer whales. And today, 24 countries and the EU, agreed to protect 1,550,000 square kilometres of its pristine waters.
This is momentous, and it would not have happened without your support.
Never before have countries come together to protect international waters on such a scale; this marks an important milestone in the global effort to safeguard the ocean – 70 percent of which lies outside national jurisdiction – from threats such as overfishing.
On behalf of the Antarctic Ocean Alliance I would really like to thank you. This is your victory.
The one catch with today’s agreement is that the Ross Sea is only protected for 35 years, when we know it should be safeguarded forever. There’s still more work to be done, so please continue with us on this journey. Next year, we’ll be back in Hobart campaigning for the creation of marine reserves in Antarctica’s Weddell Sea, the East Antarctic and the Antarctic Peninsula.
But before that, join us in celebrating this historic day. Share this Facebook post – and spread the good news.
Mike Walker, Project Director, Antarctic Ocean Alliance”
See also the official press release from CCAMLR.