Attempt to create the world’s largest marine reserve off Antarctica fails again | science and planet

Plans to create the world’s largest marine reserve in Antarctica have failed again. On Friday, NGOs reported that no progress had been made at an international conference in Hobart, Australia.

The goal of the 40th Conference of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) was to recognize much of the Southern Ocean as a protected natural area. But given the frustration of Russia and China, these plans should be shelved for at least a year. It’s already the fifth year in a row that the CCAMLR conference has come to nothing.

Four million square kilometers

Specifically, the discussion concerns an area of ​​four million square kilometers – roughly the size of the entire European Union – in the eastern part of Antarctica, on the Antarctic Peninsula and in the Weddell Sea. The Weddell Sea is home to many species that have adapted to the icy climate, such as hake, krill, and emperor penguins. It would be the largest marine conservation measure ever.

“The commission has to create marine protected areas in Antarctica, but year after year it is being deceived by individual nations who are pressing the brakes,” said German Greenpeace biologist Sandra Schutner. “China and Russia only see the melting of the polar caps as greater fishing grounds and greater opportunities for industrial exploitation. They completely ignore the climate crisis and species extinction.”

krill fish

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Members of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources agreed, among other things, to extend protection measure 51-07. Krill fishing is regulated to reduce the impact of krill fisheries on the animals that feed on them.

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Icebergs in the Weddell Sea. © Â Michael S. Nolan

Megan Vasquez

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