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ANTARCTIC MARINE RESERVES: GEOPOLITICAL INTERESTS AND ENVIRONMENT

Russia has recently been accused of blocking the creation of the world’s largest marine protected areas (MPAs) in the Southern Ocean. Negotiators stress that diplomatic tensions over the war in Ukraine have undermined the attempt to create the world’s biggest marine protected areas.

Delegates to the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) have stressed the complexity of this situation, saying that the Russian position on conservation in the Antarctic represents a negative backward step.

Consequently, the commission has failed again to reach an agreement on protecting more than 2.5 million sq km of sea off the coast of Antarctica.

The MPAsare split over two regions of the Southern Ocean, the Ross Sea and the seas off eastern Antarctica. Russia was particularly opposed to the Ross Sea MPA, which would contain a 1.25 million sq km no-take zone.

According to the commission, scientific advice has shown that the protection of Antarctic marine ecosystems from overfishing represents a key step in preserving the health of the world’s oceans.

CCAMLR is a consensus-based organization: in this way, Russian objection to the MPAs is sufficient to block the proposals.

Fishing nations that have been sceptical of the proposals in the past, such as Ukraine and Norway, were willing to accept the projects this year. On the other hand, China, previously neutral, has joined the Russians to form the last bloc of resistance to the plan.

Global tensionshave played a crucial role in the Russian decision, Antarctic activists and participants at the meeting said.

Additionally, some delegates have criticized this position, adding that the Ukrainian situation was a convenient excuse for Russia to push the negotiations back, in order to protect its pro-fishing agenda.

As the director of Southern Ocean conservation at Pew Environment has explained, this deadlock has strongly undermined the commission’s purpose of concrete and secure environmental stewardship, damaging its conservation project.

In this context, Greenpeace oceans campaigner Richard Page has outlined that this failure is symptomatic of a dangerous global trend: geopolitical interests override genuine efforts to protect the oceans for the sake of future generations.

 

The gLAWcal Team

EPSEI project

Friday, 31 October 2014

(Source: The Guardian)