Wednesday 26th October 2016                 Change text size:

NGOs disappointed as Russian delegation blocks Antarctica protection plan

Photo: Mark Sykes via Flickr

A Russian delegation supported by Ukraine has contested the creation of two large sanctuaries in Antarctica on legal grounds, saying that the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) has no authority to protect marine areas.

The Antarctic Ocean Alliance (AOA) said that the blocking represented an missed opportunity to protect biodiversity and the marine environment.

AOA director Steve Campbell said, “After two years of preparation, including this meeting, which Russia requested to settle the scientific case for the Ross Sea and east Antarctic proposals, we leave with nothing. All Members, except Russia, came to this meeting to negotiate in good faith.”

Andrea Kavanagh from the Pew Charitable Trusts added, “The actions of the Russian delegation have stalled progress on protecting the Ross Sea and east Antarctica, and have put international co-operation and goodwill at risk, two key ingredients needed for global marine conservation.”

Antarctic oceans and fauna are under increasing pressure because of climate change and the CCAMLR was hoping to push for the construction of two large marine sanctuaries.

Bob Zuur of the WWF said he was extremely disappointed because of the missed opportunity.

Antarctica’s ocean is one of the most vulnerable on Earth. We urge CCAMLR to create these critical protected areas at its next meeting in October”, he said.

Meanwhile, Richard Page, Greenpeace oceans campaigner, added, “Considerable effort and some rigorous scientific work have been put in by many commission members to get this far. The Russian delegation must now work in good faith and make sure the proposals go forward at the next meeting to ensure a lasting legacy for future generations.”

Russia was recently targeted by Greenpeace as campaigners denounced a dangerous partnership between Shell and Russian energy firms with poor safety records, that was allegedly set up to drill for oil in the Arctic.

Further reading:

Russia and Shell’s dangerous liaison threatens the Arctic region

Antarctic region melting twice as fast as first feared

Comprehensive study shows extent of ice loss increase

Warm ocean currents melting Antarctica

DiCaprio issues rallying cry for preservation of Antarctic marine life

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