Antarctic meeting chance to thaw opposition to Southern Ocean protection

The 40th annual meeting of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) and its 26 members will meet from the 18th October to discuss, among other things, three large-scale marine protection proposals in the East Antarctic, Weddell Sea and Antarctic Peninsula.

Protecting these areas will safeguard almost an extra 4 million square kilometres of ocean from human activities, providing a critical safe haven for amazing wildlife, such as whales, seals, penguins and krill in a further 1% of the global Ocean.

Throughout this year the #CallonCCAMLR public campaign, supported by Antarctica2020 and its NGO partners, have been building momentum on the need for world leaders to protect Antarctica’s Southern Ocean. With the support of almost 1.5 million people worldwide who signed a petition urging for protection of this key ocean area, high-level engagement has been growing, with political leaders from France, the EU, Germany and Spain receiving this urgent public call for action.ADVERTISEMENT

“Once again, people are rising up to save the icy foundations of our planet and our voices are being heard by key decision-makers,” said Philippe Cousteau, ocean activist and grandson of legendary Ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau.

At a recent high-level Antarctic event in Madrid, John Kerry, the US President’s Special Envoy on Climate, also highlighted that there is currently a moment of diplomatic “ripeness” to make progress.

“In the face of the severity of the climate and biodiversity crises, this CCAMLR meeting will be an important test of countries’ commitment to multilateralism. The science is unequivocal.

Countries need to put aside political differences and work together closely to agree to swiftly protect this last wilderness.“ Said Geneviève Pons, Director General and Vice President of Europe Jacques Delors and Antarctica2020 co-chair.

The region is undergoing dramatic changes from warming temperatures and melting ice, pushing it closer to several tipping points with potentially disastrous global ramifications for humanity and biodiversity. 

Antarctica is our neighbour. Wherever you are in the world you will be impacted by what happens down there, which is why it is essential we shine a light on the importance of its protection for our planet and our Ocean.” said Lewis Pugh, endurance swimmer, UN Patron of the Oceans and Antarctica2020 champion.

Currently almost all of CCAMLR’s members support additional protection. Only Russia and China’s backing is needed to get the required consensus for designation of these marine protected areas.

“This is a very clear signal for leaders to continue using their diplomatic and economic clout and intensify their efforts to secure the largest act of ocean protection in history,” said Pascal Lamy, President of the Paris Peace Forum and Antarctica2020 co-chair.

Notes to editor

Antarctica2020 is a group of influencers from the world of sport, politics, business, media and science that are working to ensure the full and effective protection of Antarctica’s Southern Ocean through a network of effective marine protected areas in the region. They are supported by Ocean Unite, The Pew Charitable Trusts and the Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition.

The #CallonCCAMLR campaign is a joint initiative of NGO partners including the Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition, Antarctica 2020, Ocean Unite, Only One, The Pew Charitable Trusts, and SeaLegacy. They have gathered the support of almost 1.5 million people worldwide for a petition calling world leaders to act now.

The Petition calling for Antarctic Ocean protection is a collaboration of initiatives:

–        #CallonCCAMLR

–        Avaaz: Save Antarctica’s wilderness campaign               

–        WeMove- campaign to save wilderness habitats for penguins, whales and other precious species

The Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Living Resources (CCAMLR) was established under the Antarctic Treaty System to preserve the biodiversity of the Southern Ocean. CCAMLR is a consensus-based organization consisting of 26 Members, including the EU and eight of its member states. CCAMLR’s mandate includes fisheries management based on the ecosystem approach, the protection of Antarctic nature and the creation of vast marine protected areas allowing the ocean to increase the resilience to climate change.

–   There are three proposals for the creation of new marine protected areas in the Southern Ocean.

o   East Antarctica: 0.95 million km2;

o   Weddell Sea:  2.18 million km2;

o   Antarctic Peninsula: 0.65 million km2.

–        The 40th meeting of CCAMLR will take place until 29 October 2021.

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