Environmentalists, polar explorers and legal experts have expressed disappointment at this week’s meeting of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) for failing to deliver on a proposal for a marine protected area in East Antarctica, but have congratulated the Australian government for their support in the process.
“The world is one step closer to seeing the reality of a marine park in the waters of East Antarctica – this is important progress on a global scale, and should be celebrated,” said explorer and adventurer Tim Jarvis AM.
This week, the 26 nations which make up CCAMLR met in Hobart and considered a proposal by Australia, France and the EU for a new marine park in East Antarctica. The proposal remains under consideration and will continue to be progressed ahead of next year’s CCAMLR meeting in Hobart.
“Australia can be proud of our long connection to the Antarctic continent at key moments in history – the 1959 Antarctic Treaty, the groundbreaking 1982 convention and the mighty diplomatic feat by Australia and France that led to a ban on mining 30 years ago.”
Earlier this month, Tim Jarvis released the report The East Antarctic Marine Park: Maintaining Australia’s Legacy from the Australian Marine Conservation Society, which outlined the case for this globally important initiative.
“To be able to stand alongside Environment Minister Sussan Ley in Canberra earlier this month and jointly call to the nations of the world to support Antarctic environmental protection sent a clear message that Australia sees protection of Antarctica’s oceans as a key priority.”
“It was also good to see the international krill fishing industry continue a self-imposed ban on fishing around the Antarctic Peninsula. It’s only a matter of time before governments catch up with industry and agree to put in place international agreements for long-term protection,” said Mr Jarvis.
“It is disappointing that we have not seen the declaration of a marine protected area for the East Antarctic, but the important progress on Antarctic protections this week must be continued in the years to come with the necessary outcome of a new marine park,” said Darren Kindleysides, CEO of the Australian Marine Conservation Society
“Marine parks protect vulnerable marine life from offshore mining and fishing and keep them fighting fit in the face of climate change. In 2002 the Antarctic nations committed to creating a network of marine parks. Seventeen years later, only five per cent of the Southern Ocean is protected, and the task is becoming urgent.”
“The proposed East Antarctic Marine Park would protect three key areas – 1 million km2 of ocean – an area larger than New South Wales, and provide protections crucial to the existence of Adelie and Emperor penguins, seals, whales and seabirds – where they live, feed and breed,” said Mr Kindleysides.
Australia’s support for the East Antarctic Marine Park proposal was also championed by Professor Tim Stephens from the University of Sydney.
“Australia rightly sees itself as a leader in Antarctica and is a strong voice for protecting the Southern Ocean – it was certainly welcoming to see that in action at the lead-up to this year’s CCAMLR meeting,” said Professor Stephens.
“We know this can be done – as has happened previously with the declaration of the Antarctic’s Ross Sea Region Marine Protected Area in 2016. It will take strong will and diplomacy but it will only be a matter of time before we see the East Antarctic Marine Park become a reality and the remaining marine park proposals waiting for consideration, which will create a ring of protection right around the Antarctic,” said Professor Stephens.
For further information please contact Tim Norton on 0402 077 721