Antarctica Marine Sanctuaries: New Failure to Protect Penguins and Whales

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Antarctica marine sanctuaries fail to protect penguins and whales

The fragile marine ecosystems of Antarctica are the subject of a project of large marine sanctuaries. But not everyone agrees.

An international initiative to create large marine sanctuaries around Antarctica to mitigate the effects of climate change and protect fragile marine ecosystems has failed for the eighth consecutive year, blocked by China and Russia.

The proposal was presented at the annual meeting of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), an organization that brings together 25 countries plus the European Union, on Saturday, November 2, 2019. AFP sources close to the negotiation. This closed meeting was held for one week in Hobart, Australia.

For penguins, seals, whales …

This proposal aims to create huge marine sanctuaries in three marine areas around Antarctica where live penguins, seals, whales or toothfishes. These areas are also rich in krill, which feed on many animal species.

Concerned in particular about the consequences for Antarctic fishing rights, Beijing and Moscow have systematically torpedo this initiative since it was launched by Australia, France and the European Union in 2010, according to a source in contact with Russian and Chinese delegations.

In a statement, CCAMLR said Saturday that the proposal had been “the subject of many discussions” but had failed to reach consensus among all members of the Commission. It will be rediscussed at the 2020 meeting, the organization added.

“The task becomes urgent”

This failure has been criticized by environmental organizations, who hoped that new scientific data highlighting the increasing ravages of global warming on the fragile Antarctic ecosystem would convince CCAMLR member countries to finally create the sanctuaries.

“In these times of increasing loss of biodiversity and threats of climate change, it is desperate that CCAMLR has failed to protect the waters of Antarctica for the eighth consecutive year,” said Andrea Kavanagh, an NGO official. The Pew Charitable Trusts.

“In 2002, the nations of the Antarctic undertook to create a network of marine parks. Seventeen years later, only 5% of the Southern Ocean is protected, and the task is urgent, “said Darren Kindleysides, head of the Australian Marine Conservation Society.

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