Vast Antarctic sanctuary plans fail

2013-11-01 08:57
(AP)

(AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Sydney - Plans to create two vast ocean sanctuaries in Antarctica to protect the pristine wilderness failed on Friday for a third time with Russia and China blocking the bids, delegates at multi-nation talks said.

The proposals for two huge Marine Protected Areas were on the table at the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) meeting in Hobart, which brought together 24 countries and the European Union.

But the 10-day talks ended in disappointment with the nations unable to agree to a US-New Zealand proposal for a protected zone in the Ross Sea and another by Australia, France and the European Union for a sanctuary off East Antarctica.

"The international community came together in Hobart to protect key parts of the Antarctic Ocean - one of the last pristine environments in the world - yet Russia chose to stand in the way," said Joshua Reichert, executive vice president of US-based Pew Charitable Trusts, which had a delegate inside the talks.

Environmentalists said an ocean wilderness that is home to 16 000 known species, including whales, seals, albatrosses, penguins and unique species of fish, was at stake.

CCAMLR - a treaty tasked with overseeing conservation and sustainable exploitation of the Antarctic Ocean, also known as the Southern Ocean - has not yet made any official comment but the head of the Swedish delegation Bo Fernholm said the outcome was disappointing.

"There was sadness," he told AFP. "We were quite unhappy with the fact that it didn't go ahead, that they couldn't get it through now was a disappointment."

‘Very disappointing’

The sanctuaries required the support of all 25 members of CCAMLR to be passed and despite the scale of the New Zealand-US proposal being reduced, Russia was not won over by either proposal.

Another of the official delegations told AFP that China also opposed the East Antarctica plan, but not the Ross Sea one.

"The talks have failed. Russia and China wanted more details, more time. It's very disappointing," said the delegate, who did not want to be named as he was forbidden from talking until the meeting officially closes later on Friday.

This was the third attempt since 2012 by CCAMLR to protect large areas in the Southern Ocean and Fernholm said while "substantial discussions" took place, Russia had reservations, believed to be related to the limits on fishing.

"I think there are some major problems remaining on some of the major things like how long does a marine protected area need to stay in force, and there were also objections about the size of these marine protected areas," he added.

The US-New Zealand bid for a sanctuary in the Ross Sea, the deep bay on Antarctica's Pacific side, had been considered the best hope after its size was reduced, with its no-fish zone to be 1.25 million square kilometres.

The second proposal called for a 1.6 million square kilometre protected zone off East Antarctica, on the frozen continent's Indian Ocean side.

Protecting those areas could have created the largest marine protection areas in the world.

Andrea Kavanagh, director of The Pew Charitable Trusts' Southern Ocean sanctuaries project, said protecting the teeming marine life of the Antarctic waters had far-reaching consequences for the world's oceans.

"Three-quarters of all marine life is maintained by a Southern Ocean current that pulls nutrient-rich waters from the deep ocean to the surface and then around the world," she said.

Read more on:    antarctic  |  conservation  |  marine life

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
2 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.