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World Watches as CCAMLR Stalls on Ross Sea Marine Protection

2 November 2012, Hobart
World Watches as CCAMLR Stalls on Ross Sea Marine Protection

The meeting of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) wrapped up in Hobart, with no agreement on Ross Sea Protection.

ECO Spokesperson, Cath Wallace said the meeting failed to adopt the joint USA-New Zealand proposal for marine reserves and marine protected areas in the Ross Sea.

CCAMLR has agreed to a special meeting in Germany in July 2013 to further discuss marine protection in the Ross Sea and East Antarctica.

Cath Wallace said that behind closed doors, some powerful fishing countries have blocked attempts to achieve marine protected areas in the Ross Sea and East Antarctica.” The main problem countries named by the citizen group AVAAZ, include Russia, China and Japan.
Cath Wallace is in Hobart but has not been in the meeting.

“This result is disappointing but not unexpected – but it is not the end of the matter either” said Cath Wallace.

“We always knew proposals would be contested. This is just round one of the struggle to protect that last largely intact ocean environment.

“It is always difficult when there are consensus decision rules and some parties are bloody-mindedly self interested.”

“ECO has seen this before: we struggled for eight years in the 1980s before we overturned the agreement Antarctic countries negotiated to allow mining in Antarctica.

“This struggle will also take time. The world has woken up to the damage that toothfishing is causing, to the impacts of the loss of the last largely intact marine ecosystem.”

ECO welcomes the large component of a no-take marine reserve in the joint US-NZ proposal but said it still does not cover the core slope and shelf. “Neither the New Zealand nor the US proposal gave sufficient protection to the Ross Sea and the Antarctic Ocean Alliance will continue to press for much more.

New Zealand made a spirited defence of marine protected areas in principle: that was welcome.

Some CCAMLR members have forgotten that the convention is a conservation agreement linked to the Antarctic Treaty and not a fishing only agreement.
“Some thinking in CCAMLR is still stuck back in the days when people just took fish without a thought for the ecosystem.”

Globally there has been a rejection of the “fish and don’t protect” approach as shown by the Antarctic Oceans Alliance, the Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition and its members, ECO and the more than one million people who signed a petition for AVAAZ.

“ECO hopes that the NZ and the US will look for greater ambition for the last intact ocean. Overall, CCAMLR and its members need to get real that this is the last intact ocean ecosystem: the world is watching and will be paying close attention to what happens next.”


1. The Environment and Conservation Organisations of NZ is the national alliance of groups with a concern for the environment. ECO is a long standing member of the Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition (ASOC) which has monitored Antarctic meetings for over 30 years.
2. The Commission on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) is headquatered in Hobart where it meets for its annual meeting to make decisions on fisheries management and marine protection in the Southern Ocean. CCAMLR first met in 1982 and has 25 members including the European Union.
3. CCAMLR committed itself in 2009 to establish a network of representative marine protected areas across the Southern Ocean by 2012 but has so far established only one south of Orkney Islands east of the Antarctic Peninsula.
4. The latest CCAMLR meeting was discussing protection proposals for three areas: the Ross Sea region from New Zealand and the United States; East Antarctica from Australia, France and the European Union; and to protect areas currently in ice shelves around the Antarctic Peninsula which could collapse due to climate change from the UK and the European Union. None of the proposals were agreed to at the meeting.
5. For further information see the Antarctic Ocean Alliance website, www.antarcticocean.org, and the Last Ocean www.lastocean.org.nz, and Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition (www.asoc.org)

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