Protection of the Seas: Please wait!

The shift was supposed to begin around Antarctica – but the declared protected areas around the polar ice cap will wait a long time.

The name says it all: The Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) reveals what it’s all about in the first place – efficient fishing for “resources” from the Antarctic sea; So it is not primarily about creating protection zones. However, the latter was the focus of the recent meeting of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) which brought together 22 delegations (out of a total of 27 member states and ten other observer states).

From this perspective, the two-week meeting in Hobart on the Australian island of Tasmania was a failure, coinciding with the start of the climate conference in Egypt. The oceans are a major factor in climate change.

The Hobart success report was more important. Although the commission’s dispatch produces self-praise by highlighting the Three Protected Area Reform Agreement at the next meeting in Chile in 2023. This was originally scheduled for this session, which ended last Friday.

70 km2 New protection zone

Really on the plus side there are just over 70 square kilometers of protected areas – eight “vulnerable marine ecosystems” (VME), in which there is extraordinary biodiversity. Scientists Susan Lockhart and Rachel Downey Dees green areaThe “Arctic Sunrise” ship was discovered and explored in many dives.

In fact, there have been proposals for protected areas since 2009 and the original plan was for some this year. The initiative did not come by chance: it should have been a major first step towards putting into practice the decisions of the High Ambition Coalition (HAC) established at the end of 2020. At the time, France had positioned itself at the forefront of this initiative. Primary goal: By 2030, every country must place nearly a third of its national territory under strict protection in order to stem the loss of species.

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Here, too, it is not only about biodiversity, but also about slowing the effects of the climate crisis. Because only healthy seas can reduce the burden of greenhouse gases and pollution.

The Humanitarian Assistance Committee has also pushed for this “30 x 30” goal to be pursued on the high seas, in international waters. At the end of August, there is already a start in this regard United nations.The Conference on the Protection of the Seas failed. Protection zones were to be established here in New York, but the efforts were unsuccessful due to the resistance of the American delegation. The meeting ended with little procedural progress. The topic has been on the table – in varying degrees of severity – for 15 years.

“We’re running out of time”

At the moment, the last chapter was the committee meeting in Hobart. “Antarctica is a place of peace and science,” says Emily Greely, director of Antarctic Conservation at the World Fund (WWF) in Australia. It demands that in the future the conference shift the meaning from “harvesting fish” to “protecting the sea”. Better ways of working together are needed. “Now is the time to take action.”

Frieda Bingson, spokeswoman for Greenpeace Australia’s ‘Protect Antarctica’ campaign, also spared criticism: the meeting in Hobart was a ‘historic opportunity’. Delegates had come to Tasmania “in good faith” to succeed, but “serious scientific proposals to protect the seas” were derailed – “due to interventions that had little scientific basis”.

Bengson blames China, Norway and Russia in particular for delaying tactics that also included disruptive rhetoric that prevented progress on content. “We are running out of time. Scientists are unequivocal that we need to protect a third of our seas to protect enough marine life to ensure food security for billions of people and slow the impact of the climate crisis.”

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The committee was established in the early eighties of the last century. At that time, the first concerns were raised that the sea in the Global South could dry up. The commission was created to put fishing on a sustainable path.

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