Antarctic Ocean Alliance calls on CCAMLR to prioritise Marine Protection for looming 2012 deadline as delegates commit to framework

HOBART, 4 November 2011 – The Antarctic Ocean Alliance (AOA) today welcomed progress at the Commission for the Conservation of Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) where agreement was reached on measures to guide the creation of a network of marine reserves and marine protected areas in the oceans around Antarctica. However, the Alliance called on CCAMLR delegates to step up efforts to deliver protection as the convention’s 2012 deadline looms.

This week the Alliance presented a proposal to designate a network of 19 marine protected areas and no-take marine reserves around Antarctica,which would establish the most comprehensive ocean protection regime of its kind in the world. Areas proposed for protection include the Ross Sea, Antarctic Peninsula, East Antarctica and the Weddell Sea.

“The progress made in Hobart was achieved through good will from many countries but if CCAMLR is going to meet its target of a representative network of marine protected areas and marine reserves by 2012, much work is yet to be done,” said Alliance Campaign Director Steve Campbell from the meeting in Hobart. “The members need to lift the scale of their ambition and many countries need to prioritise conservation over resource extraction.”

Scenarios for Antarctic Marine Protection were offered by the governments of Australia with France, the United States, New Zealand and the United Kingdom with the European Union.

“There are some good proposals on the table, but there are many additional areas where protection of biodiversity is required,” Campbell said.

“Globally the oceans are in crisis and their health can only be restored by the creation of a global network of large scale marine reserves,” said Richard Page, oceans campaigner with Greenpeace, an Alliance member.

“CCAMLR member countries now have all the tools to create a circumpolar network of marine reserves and must act now to protect the penguins, seals, seabirds and other vulnerable marine life inhabiting the icy waters around Antarctica and so lead the way in protecting the high seas.”

Claire Christian of the Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition (ASOC) said “CCAMLR Members worked diligently to develop a clear way forward on marine protection this year. ASOC hopes that this can lead to the designation of a large marine reserve in the Ross Sea – one of the world’s most intact ecosystems.”

The Alliance will be working in Europe, the Americas, Asia and Australasia in the coming year to make its vision of a network of Antarctic marine reserves, an order of magnitude than anything that has been achieved before, a reality.

Alliance members include Greenpeace, ASOC, Mission Blue, Forest and Bird, Oceans Five, ECO NZ and associate members the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Oceana.