Today, after 5 years of negotiations, the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) agreed to establish a marine protected area (MPA) in the Ross Sea Region – the first major MPA in the history of the Antarctic.
Commissioner Karmenu Vella, European Commissioner for Environment, Fisheries and Maritime Affairs, expressed his deep satisfaction with the result: “The establishment of the first major Marine Protected Area in Antarctic waters is not just an important step for CCAMLR, but also a significant milestone in the European Union’s push for comprehensive and more effective international ocean governance. I hope today’s decision prepares the ground for the other protected areas which have been proposed by the EU, such as the Weddell Sea and East Antarctica.”
The CCAMLR annual meeting in Hobart, Australia, took several other important decisions, many of them on the basis of EU proposals.
In particular, members agreed to launch a second performance review. This will allow for the strengthening of the organisation in line with the objectives of the EU Common Fisheries Policy, notably the sustainable management of living marine resources.
Significant progress was also achieved in the fight against Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing. Members strengthened the obligations related to vessel authorisation and tightened the rules of the IUU listing procedures.
Members also agreed to facilitate scientific research and exploration of marine areas that have become exposed following the retreat or collapse of ice shelves around the Antarctic Peninsula.
The Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) was established by an international convention in 1982 with the objective of conserving Antarctic marine life. The establishment of CCAMLR was a response to the increasing commercial interest in Antarctic krill resources (a keystone component of the Antarctic ecosystem) and to the history of over-exploitation of several other marine resources in the Southern Ocean. The EU is a member of CCAMLR, together with Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Namibia, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Russian Federation, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Ukraine, United Kingdom, USA, and Uruguay.