The meeting in Chile for Antarctic protection ends without agreement

The meeting that aimed to agree on the implementation of new protection areas in the waters surrounding Antarctica ended on Friday without progress.

25 de June de 2023 11:10

There are three proposals to protect an area of 4 million square km.

  The 27 members of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) who met this week in the Chilean capital failed to reach a consensus to declare three new marine protected areas (MPA) and advance the protection of the waters that surround the white continent.

“Unfortunately, this special meeting ended as the previous six annual meetings have – with two countries blocking the will of the other 25 CCAMLR members,” said Andrea Kavanagh , who leads work on Antarctica and the Southern Ocean for the Pew Bertarelli Ocean Legacy project.

In the first session of the Commission that took place on Monday, the specialists who spoke pointed to China and Russia as the main obstacles to achieving the objectives of the international organization.

According to Kavanagh , the two countries blocking the discussion "repeatedly derail the process by demanding more data to protect the ocean than to exploit it."

The last MPA designated by the Commission was in 2016, when members nominated the world's largest protected area in the Ross Sea, at 2.02 million km2.

This special meeting of the Commission, the third in its four decades of existence, had its hopes pinned on taking a step towards protecting 30% of the global ocean by 2030, part of the "30 by 30" goal that the 196 parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity agreed in Montreal last December and which world leaders reaffirmed this week in New York, in the adoption of a United Nations treaty to protect the high seas.

"Leaders missed another opportunity to take action and must now step up at the annual meeting in October, or continue to put the health of the Ocean and its biodiversity at risk," said World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Antarctic Conservation Manager Emily Grilly. .

CCAMLR, made up of 26 countries plus the European Union, was established under the Antarctic Treaty System to preserve biodiversity in waters surrounding Antarctica.

Currently, there are three proposals for the creation of new MPAs in oceanic waters surrounding Antarctica: East Antarctica (0.95 million km2), Weddell Sea (2.18 million km2) and Antarctic Peninsula (about 0.65 million km2), the latter promoted with special interest by Argentina and Chile as they are among the most affected by global warming.

Protecting these three large areas would safeguard nearly 4 million km2 of Antarctic waters, an area equivalent to the size of the EU and representing 1% of the global ocean.

By Agenda Malvinas

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