Selasa, 20 Oktober 2020

'No other choice': Groups push to protect vast swaths of Antarctic seas - Mongabay.com

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‘This is a matter of political will’

The body responsible for making decisions surrounding Antarctica’s marine region is the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), an international commission with 25 member states and the European Union, as well as 10 acceding states. Originally established to manage krill fisheries in the Southern Ocean, the commission meets each year in Hobart, Australia, to negotiate total allowable catches for fisheries, and to discuss other matters related to Antarctica’s marine region, including the designation of MPAs.

Any decision requires a consensus among all members, and proposals can take a long time to be approved. For instance, it took more than five years for the commission to approve a proposal to turn a region of the Ross Sea into an MPA, according to Werner. But it finally went ahead in 2016: now 1.55 million km2 (nearly 600,000 mi2)of the Ross Sea is classified as an MPA, with 1.12 million km2 (432,000 mi2) of the region fully protected from commercial fishing.

“In CCAMLR, everything is possible,” said Werner, who acts as an official observer and scientific representative at the commission. “You can have a proposal blocked for years like the Ross Sea, and then one day [it happens].”

Map showing existing MPAs and proposed MPAs in the Southern Ocean. Image by Pew Charitable Trusts.

The nations that may hinder efforts to approve the three new MPA proposals are China and Russia, which have fishing interests in these regions, conservationists say. According to Werner, every year, China extracts about 50,000 metric tons of krill from the Southern Ocean, and Russia takes about 400 metric tons of toothfish from the Ross Sea region.

“This is a matter of political will,” Werner said. “If the political will is there, it’s to be done. If the political will is not there, we can be in the same place as we are right now, and kind of stuck.”

The establishment of these three MPAs would help move the world closer to the goal of protecting 10% of the oceans by 2020, a key target for ocean protection as set out by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 14 and the Convention on Biological Diversity’s Aichi Target 11.

“We’ve lost 50% of the biodiversity on Earth in 40 years,” Philippe Cousteau, a spokesperson for Antarctica2020 and grandson of famed oceanographer Jacques Cousteau, told Mongabay. “In order to stem that crisis, we need to protect 30% of the ocean by 2030 … this year, the goal was to get 10% protected, that would still leave 20% in the decade, which is a lot. But there’s no time for waste.”

Right now, only about 5% of the world’s oceans are protected with MPAs, according to the Marine Conservation Institute.

“It’s kind of a last-ditch effort to make that 2020 deadline of 10% of our ocean being protected,” Ashlan Cousteau, also a spokesperson for Antarctica2020, and Philippe Cousteau’s wife, told Mongabay. “That’s why we’re pushing so hard for this.”

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October 20, 2020 at 02:13AM
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'No other choice': Groups push to protect vast swaths of Antarctic seas - Mongabay.com

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