Hobart, Australia—The Pew Charitable Trusts commended the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) for acting to expand protections for krill, a critical species in the Southern Ocean’s food web, but noted the commission’s continued failure to designate what could have been the world’s largest marine reserve in Antarctica’s Southern Ocean.
Because of objections from China and Russia, the commission could not reach consensus for the fourth time in three years on proposals to designate permanent marine reserves within the Ross Sea and waters off East Antarctica.
Made up of 24 countries and the European Union, CCAMLR did extend protections for Antarctic krill: a time extension of the current krill fishing limits that can occur close to the coasts where nesting penguins live. Krill, shrimp-like crustaceans, are the base of the Southern Ocean food web and a crucial food source for seals, fish, whales, and penguins.
For the fourth time in three years, CCAMLR members could not reach consensus on proposals to protect areas in the Ross Sea and off East Antarctica. China and Russia blocked efforts by the commission to agree on designations that would have restricted industrial fishing in some of the most pristine marine environments on Earth. Together, the two designations would have protected 3.2 million square kilometers (1.2 million square miles).
Andrea Kavanagh, who directs Pew’s efforts to protect penguins and the Southern Ocean, issued the following statement:
“We are pleased that CCAMLR took positive steps to keep some krill fishing away from nesting habitats of penguins, but disappointed that politics trumped the advice from the Scientific Committee to increase observer coverage on all fishing vessels.
Since 1959, Antarctica has been recognized as a special place for peace and science. It is regrettable that CCAMLR, faced with objections from China and Russia, cannot live up to that promise. Another year of inaction means another year that these near-pristine waters and their remarkable biodiversity are open to the threat of industrial fishing. The proposed designations would have ensured the long-term protection of many species, including penguins, seals and whales.”
More information on Pew’s global penguin conservation campaign is available at http://www.pewtrusts.org/en/projects/global-penguin-conservation.
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