Pew Launches Global Program to Protect Penguins
New campaign aims for international cooperation to protect sentinel species
Penguin lovers around the world will unite to observe World Penguin Day on April 25th, and The Pew Charitable Trusts is joining the celebration by announcing the launch of the first global effort aimed at protecting penguins wherever they live.
Eighteen species of penguin range from the cold of Antarctica to the equatorial heat of the Galapagos Islands. Interference from humans in the form of pollution, habitat degradation, introduced predators, and overfishing is affecting the health of penguins. Climate change, which melts and shifts sea ice, adds to the challenges facing these birds. Most species are in decline, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
“Penguin protection is critical, not just for these iconic species, but for entire ocean ecosystems,” said Andrea Kavanagh, director of Pew's global penguin conservation and Southern Ocean work. “Penguins are sentinels of ocean health, and changes to their populations can indicate trouble for other species that depend on a robust food web.”
Pew will work to restore and protect breeding and feeding grounds in the coastal waters of countries throughout the Southern Hemisphere, as well as advocate to establish large, no-take marine reserves in Antarctica's Southern Ocean.
As a member of the Antarctic Ocean Alliance, Pew is actively engaged in the effort to establish large-scale marine protections in the Southern Ocean. Although reserves do not mitigate the impacts of climate change, they help species such as penguins build resilience, abundance and diversity, and provide refuge from increased fishing pressures.
The Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources, or CCAMLR, is the consensus-based international body charged with governing these waters. Comprised of 24 member countries and the European Union, the commission is considering proposals for marine reserves in the Ross Sea and waters off East Antarctica. At this October's annual meeting, CCAMLR will debate the proposals for the fourth time. Pew hopes that this year, decisions will be made.
Last year, the international community could not agree on a plan to protect some ofAntarctica's valuable penguin habitat because of objections from Russia. But these waters and these habitats must be preserved.
"The Antarctic Treaty was signed at the height of the Cold War to protect the entire continent. Now it's the Southern Ocean's turn for an international conservation commitment," said Kavanagh. "We all depend on a healthy ocean for survival. Today's political differences should not stand in the way of protecting penguins and vulnerable sea life."
Notes to editors:
The Antarctic Treaty was signed in December 1959 by Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Chile, France, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States. It entered into force in 1961 and emphasizes Antarctica as a place of peace and for shared scientific research.
The Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources, or CCAMLR, was established in 1982 to conserve marine life. The commission's Conservation Measure 91-04 provides a framework for the establishment of marine protected areas. Learn more: http://archive.ccamlr.org/pu/E/e_pubs/cm/11-12/91-04.pdf.