Ross Sea Agreement

Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully today hailed a groundbreaking agreement that will create the world`s largest marine reserve in the Ross Sea region of Antarctica. “The MPA negotiations began in 2012 and New Zealand would like to thank all parties for working together to reach an agreement that protects one of the few remaining untouched natural environments in the world,” said McCully. The first MPA in the Southern Ocean was agreed in 2009 south of the South Orkney Islands, and the United Kingdom, as a claim state, was a visible advocate for the initiative. It was the world`s first offshore MPA and secured the agreement of other CCAMLR parties because it was relatively small (94,000 square kilometres) and did not enter the commercial interests of fishing from countries such as Russia. New Zealand, another claim state, was an active advocate for the commercial development of fishing in the Ross Sea in the 1990s. It is therefore too easy to characterize any disagreement on mpA proposals in the Southern Ocean as a disagreement between the conservation states and the fishing states. It was established on 1 December 2017 after years of cooperation and international negotiations. The MPA, co-led by New Zealand and the United States, sought the agreement of the 25-member Commission for the Conservation of The Antarctic Wildlife and Sea (CCAMLR). The agreement aims to reconcile sea protection, sustainable fishing and scientific interests. The agreement was reached on Friday after two weeks of talks between delegates from 24 countries and the EU in Hobart at the annual meeting of the Commission for the Conservation of Wildlife and the Antarctic Sea (CCAMLR).

“The proposal required some modifications to secure the unanimous support of the 25 members of CCAMLR, and the final agreement compensates for sea protection, sustainable fishing and scientific interests. However, the limits of the MPA remain unchanged. CCAMLR has set up a commission to help preserve marine life in the Southern Ocean. Three questions clearly show the tensions that exist between saving, securing and maintaining this marine region. First, the Commission makes decisions on the basis of the opinion of a scientific advisory committee and then approves the legislation (for example). B catch limits, permitted catches) in the form of “conservation measures” or MM. For their scientific side, CMs have been widely touted as some of the most effective in global fisheries management. Second, CCAMLR juggles conservation and use needs – so-called rational use is allowed if it is sustainable. Third, CCAMLR signatories were aware that the human history of Antarctica is steeped in stories of overfishing and near extinction of species such as seals and whales. And to reach agreement on the future use of the Southern Ocean, CCAMLR is working on a consensus basis, which can lead to frustration on the part of conservationists and harvesters about the scale and pace of commercial fishing (governments are under pressure to support both groups at the same time).

In 2009, the United Kingdom submitted a proposal for MPA in the southern region of the Southern Orkney, based on a circular analysis of regions with specific ecological characteristics (called bioregions).

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