Beginning June 19, member countries of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) will meet for one week in Santiago, Chile, with a singular focus: to make progress on Southern Ocean marine protections.
This will be only the third special meeting in the commission’s 41-year history—an indication that CCAMLR members see the urgency to respond to the threats facing the Southern Ocean.
The commission is considering three proposals for marine protected areas (MPAs): in the Antarctic Peninsula, the Weddell Sea and off East Antarctica. These areas, together with existing MPAs in the region, would protect almost 6 million square kilometers (about 2.3 million square miles) and make good on world leaders’ recent commitments—in December, in Montreal, when they adopted the Global Diversity Framework, and again in March, in New York, when they signed the United Nations High Seas Treaty—to protect 30% of the global ocean by 2030. By approving the three new proposals, CCAMLR members would also take a step toward fulfilling their 2011 commitment to establish an MPA network that protects representative examples of marine ecosystems, biodiversity, and habitats.
MPAs are the most effective tool to protect ocean ecosystems because they increase the diversity and abundance of species in a region while enhancing the ocean’s resilience to environmental impacts, including climate change. An MPA network in the Southern Ocean would also help preserve the region’s function as a vital carbon sink—a service that is amplified by Antarctic krill, a keystone species that sequesters 23 million tons of carbon in the Southern Ocean each year.
Southern Ocean Conservation Provides Global Benefits
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