More Antarctic Marine Protections Needed at CCAMLR

More Antarctic Marine Protections Needed at CCAMLR
Marine protected areas in the Southern Ocean

© John B. Weller

Beginning Oct. 16, Member countries of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) will meet for two weeks in Hobart, Australia, to determine the fate of marine conservation in the Southern Ocean.

Last year, CCAMLR designated the world’s largest marine protected area in the Ross Sea, which goes into effect Dec. 1. This year, decisions are expected to be made to continue momentum towards CCAMLR’s commitment to create a network of marine protected areas (MPAs) throughout the region by designating reserves in the waters off East Antarctica, the Weddell Sea, and the Antarctic Peninsula.

Establishing additional MPAs throughout the Southern Ocean would allow marine species to travel between individual protected areas to breed and forage, while preserving the connectivity among the numerous unique ecosystems found throughout the region. A network of MPAs would ensure that these intact and biodiverse regions are preserved for science and conservation purposes. And the collective area covered by a network of MPAs would also significantly contribute to the goal of protecting 30 percent of the world’s ocean.

A Southern Ocean MPA network would be the first of its kind in the high seas and would provide long-term protection for millions of penguins, whales, and seals, and for the source of critical nutrients in the world’s ocean.

Also up for consideration this year is a research and monitoring plan for the Ross Sea Region MPA, which is critical for determining how the designation is affecting ecosystem health.

Southern Ocean
Southern Ocean
Press Releases & Statements

Southern Ocean Body Rejects New Protections but Moves Forward on a Monitoring Plan

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Press Releases & Statements

HOBART, Australia—In mixed news for ocean conservation advocates, the body that governs all activity in the Southern Ocean around Antarctica concluded its 36th annual meeting today without creating a marine protected area (MPA) in East Antarctica. But the scientific body within the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) did endorse a plan to monitor the world’s largest MPA, in the Ross Sea, which it created last year. The Pew Charitable Trusts applauds CCAMLR’s action on the Ross Sea plan, but is disappointed that the commission did not create a new marine reserve.

Marine protected areas in the Southern Ocean
Marine protected areas in the Southern Ocean
Fact Sheet

A Network of Marine Protected Areas in the Southern Ocean

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Fact Sheet

The Southern Ocean, surrounding Antarctica, is one of the least altered marine ecosystems on Earth. Scientists believe this ecosystem is changing due to the impact of climate change and temperatures that are warming faster than nearly anywhere else on Earth.

Protection for the Weddell Sea
Protection for the Weddell Sea
Fact Sheet

Protection for the Weddell Sea

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Fact Sheet

The Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) is considering a proposal that would create a marine reserve in the Weddell Sea covering 700,000 square miles (1.8 million square kilometers). The Weddell Sea is a remote, ice-covered embayment east of the Antarctic Peninsula, and one of the most pristine marine ecosystems in the world. This area is a unique habitat known for its outstanding biodiversity, including Antarctic petrels, emperor and Adélie penguins, and multiple species of seals and whales. Far below the sea ice, nutrient-rich benthic ecosystems form key habitat for an array of creatures found nowhere else on Earth, such as glass sponges and cold-water corals.

Glacier
Glacier
Fact Sheet

Protection for the Antarctic Peninsula Region

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Fact Sheet

The Western Antarctic Peninsula and South Scotia Arc regions are some of the most biologically important areas of the Southern Ocean and have experienced the impacts of a changing climate more than almost anywhere else on Earth. Regional warming is leading to changing weather conditions, substantial declines in sea ice formation, and winter habitat loss for wildlife such as Adélie and chinstrap penguins, crabeater seals, and Antarctic krill, a forage species that forms the base of the food web. Combined with concentrated fishing for krill in coastal areas, these changing conditions are putting a strain on this fragile ecosystem and its remarkable biodiversity. Consequently, the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) is considering a proposal to establish a large marine protected area (MPA) in this region.

Protection for East Antarctica
Protection for East Antarctica
Fact Sheet

Protection for East Antarctica

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Fact Sheet

In the waters off East Antarctica, the MacRobertson, Drygalski, and D’Urville Sea-Mertz areas cover almost a million square kilometres. Together, they make up the current proposal for a system of marine protected areas (MPA) to be considered by the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR).

Diving under ice
Diving under ice
Fact Sheet

Research and Monitoring in the World’s Largest Marine Protected Area

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Fact Sheet

In October 2016, the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) established the Ross Sea Region Marine Protected Area. The 2.06-million-square-kilometer marine reserve, which covers an area larger than Mexico and includes the area under the Ross Ice Shelf, is the world’s largest marine protected area (MPA). It represents a major advancement in fulfilling CCAMLR’s commitment to create a network of marine protected areas in the Southern Ocean.

Related Resources

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Southern Ocean Sanctuaries
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