CCAMLR 2012 Closes, Dashing Hopes for Antarctic Ocean Conservation

Gentoo PenguinsThe 31st annual meeting of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) closed today with no agreement on a proposal to protect millions of square kilometers as marine reserves. Pew issued the following statement on the CCAMLR outcome:

“This is a resounding disappointment for the conservation of the Ross Sea [and East Antarctica], and for science,” said Gerry Leape, senior officer at the Pew Environment Group. “In 2011, CCAMLR countries agreed to work together to protect and conserve the unique marine life that thrives in the ocean surrounding Antarctica. Instead, they are heading home and leaving the door wide open to unchecked commercial fishing in these special areas.”


  • Governments at this meeting had a chance to take some of the most significant action in ocean conservation history and instead chose the path of least resistance.
  • The failure to reach an agreement signals a clear lack of political will to set aside short-term fishing interests in the pursuit of the greater goal embodied in the Antarctic Treaty: the pursuit of peace and science.
  • The Pew Environment Group hopes that governments participating in CCAMLR will reevaluate their positions in the next year and come to the 2013 Commission meeting determined to protect and conserve large areas of the Southern Ocean as no-take marine reserves.
  • Despite the disappointing outcome of this year's meeting, the U.S. government should be recognized for the work that it did to press for a meaningful marine reserve in the Ross Sea.