Special Meeting Sets Stage for Southern Ocean Protections

Global leaders convene in Chile to move conservation forward

A lone penguin appears tiny, standing on an iceberg in a dark blue, windswept sea, with other icebergs behind it and the shore of a much larger ice floe in the far background.
Global leaders will meet in Santiago, Chile, in June, to discuss Southern Ocean marine protections that would help biodiversity in the region, including penguins like the one seen on the iceberg above.
John B. Weller

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.

Issue Brief

Southern Ocean Conservation Provides Global Benefits

Quick View
Issue Brief

The health of Antarctica’s Southern Ocean—remote and frigid waters housing biodiversity found nowhere else on Earth, including species uniquely adapted to its low temperatures—is critical to marine life and our global ocean.

penguins
penguins
Issue Brief

A Network of Marine Protected Areas in the Southern Ocean

Quick View
Issue Brief

The Southern Ocean is one of the least-altered marine ecosystems on Earth. Encompassing 10% of the world’s ocean, this region surrounding Antarctica is home to thousands of species found nowhere else, from colossal squid and fish with antifreeze proteins in their blood, to bioluminescent worms and brilliantly hued starfish.

Solutions to Protect Antarctica’s Keystone Species
Solutions to Protect Antarctica’s Keystone Species
Article

Solutions to Protect Antarctica's Keystone Species

Quick View
Article

At the heart of Antarctica’s Southern Ocean lives a tiny creature that must be protected: krill. Without these small crustaceans, charismatic Antarctic predator species such as penguins, seals, and whales could not survive.

OUR WORK

National Homeownership Month

Article

37 Researchers Working to Transform Biomedical Science

Quick View
Article

Biomedical researchers are on the front lines of scientific innovation. From responding to global pandemics to pioneering lifesaving cancer treatments, these researchers push past scientific boundaries to solve pressing health challenges. For nearly 40 years, The Pew Charitable Trusts has supported more than 1,000 early-career biomedical scientists committed to this discovery.

Krill animation
Video

Antarctic Krill: Carbon Conveyor Belt of the Southern Ocean

Quick View
Video

Surrounding the continent of Antarctica, the Southern Ocean plays an outsized role in the fight against climate change. It is one of the largest regional ocean sinks for atmospheric CO2, partly due to Antarctic krill, small crustaceans at the center of the region’s food web.

CCAMLR 101: How to Protect Antarctica's Marine Life
CCAMLR 101: How to Protect Antarctica's Marine Life
Video

CCAMLR 101: How to Protect Antarctica's Marine Life

Quick View
Video

What is CCAMLR, and how can it protect the penguins, seals, whales, and other animals that live in Antarctica? Our whiteboard animation explains.

Penguin and seals
Penguin and seals
Video

Protecting the World’s Final Ocean Frontier

Quick View
Video

The Southern Ocean—the waters surrounding Antarctica—is the one of the last untouched wilderness areas on the planet. But a warming climate and increased fishing pressures put this vast area and its iconic species such as penguins, whales, and seals at risk. 

Composite image of modern city network communication concept

Learn the Basics of Broadband from Our Limited Series

Sign up for our four-week email course on Broadband Basics

Quick View

How does broadband internet reach our homes, phones, and tablets? What kind of infrastructure connects us all together? What are the major barriers to broadband access for American communities?

Pills illustration
Pills illustration

What Is Antibiotic Resistance—and How Can We Fight It?

Sign up for our four-week email series The Race Against Resistance.

Quick View

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria, also known as “superbugs,” are a major threat to modern medicine. But how does resistance work, and what can we do to slow the spread? Read personal stories, expert accounts, and more for the answers to those questions in our four-week email series: Slowing Superbugs.