From ChannelAsia: Antarctic ocean sanctuary talks end in failure
international conference has failed to agree on new marine sanctuaries
to protect thousands of polar species across Antarctica, sparking
condemnation on Friday from conservation groups.
talks at the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living
Resources (CCAMLR) at Hobart in Australia wrapped up late Thursday
CCAMLR, made up of 24 countries and the
European Union, had been considering proposals for two critical areas in
Antarctica's Southern Ocean.
They included 1.6 million square
kilometres (640,000 square miles) of protection for the Ross Sea, the
world's most intact marine ecosystem, and 1.9 million square kilometres
of coastal area in the East Antarctic, backed by Australia and the EU.
concerns by countries over restrictions to ocean resources saw the
talks end in stalemate. Instead, CCAMLR will hold an intercessional
meeting in Germany in July.
The Antarctic Ocean Alliance, made up
of 30 international organisations including the Pew Environment Group,
WWF, and Greenpeace, said it was hugely disappointed.
members failed to establish any large-scale Antarctic marine protection
at this meeting because a number of countries actively blocked
conservation efforts," said alliance official Steve Campbell.
Blocking countries reportedly included key fishing nations, with China, Japan, South Korea and Russia among them.
year, CCAMLR has behaved like a fisheries organisation instead of an
organisation dedicated to conservation of Antarctic waters," added Farah
Obaidullah of Greenpeace.
"If there is a glimmer of hope to be
pulled from the ruins, it is in the redoubling of the commitment to
create marine protected areas expressed by most CCAMLR members.
question now is whether countries like Russia, China and the Ukraine
will come to the next meeting prepared to meet their conservation
The Antarctic region is home to big populations of
penguins, seals and whales found nowhere else on Earth, and also has
unique seafloor features that nurture early links in the food chain,
according to environmental groups.
CCAMLR was established in 1982
with the goal of conserving marine life in the face of rising demands
to exploit krill, a shrimp-like creature which is an important source of
food for species in the Antarctic.
The commission permits
fishing provided it is carried out "in a sustainable manner and takes
account of the effects of fishing on other components of the ecosystem".