Landmark Antarctica deal balance challenging, Norway says / News / The Foreigner

Landmark Antarctica deal balance challenging, Norway says. As Norwegian politicians and officials sing the Ross Sea accord’s praises, NGOs and others welcome it but highlight that it is far from being a drop in the ocean. Antarctic marine conservation experts from around the world have agreed to establish a marine protected area (MPA) in the Southern Ocean. It occurred at this week’s 35th Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) meeting in Hobart, Australia. All Member countries have agreed to a joint USA/New Zealand proposal to establish an over 1,550,000 km2 zone. This makes it the planet’s largest MPA to date.

rosssea, antarctic, southernocean, environment, penguins, whales, krill, toothfish, paywall



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Landmark Antarctica deal balance challenging, Norway says

Published on Friday, 28th October, 2016 at 19:03 under the news category, by Michael Sandelson   .
Last Updated on 28th October 2016 at 20:10.

As Norwegian politicians and officials sing the Ross Sea accord’s praises, NGOs and others welcome it but highlight that it is far from being a drop in the ocean.

Sea Ice in the Ross Sea, Antarctica
Sea Ice in the Ross Sea, Antarctica
Photo: Michael Van Woert/Public Domain


Antarctic marine conservation experts from around the world have agreed to establish a marine protected area (MPA) in the Southern Ocean. It occurred at this week’s 35th Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) meeting in Hobart, Australia.

All Member countries have agreed to a joint USA/New Zealand proposal to establish an over 1,550,000 km2 zone. This makes it the planet’s largest MPA to date.

“This landmark decision represents the first time that nations have agreed to protect a huge area of the ocean that lies beyond the jurisdiction of any individual country,” Andrea Kavanagh, director of Antarctic and Southern Ocean work for The Pew Charitable Trusts, says in a statement.

She currently directs Pew’s global penguin conservation work, having joined them as manager of the Marine Aquaculture Campaign. Ms Kavanagh later managed the Antarctic Krill Conservation Project, and the Protecting the Deep Sea Campaign.

“This would not have been possible without Russia joining with other countries to pass the proposal. The governments of the United States and New Zealand should also be commended for their tireless work these past six years,” she adds.

“No mean feat”

The Foreigner spoke with representatives of the Ross Sea deal’s Norwegian contingent. Norway’s official contribution to the 35-year agreement, which has taken some five years to negotiate, has been via six public entities.

The MPA
The MPA
New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade
These are the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Fisheries, Ministry of Climate and Environment, the Directorate of Fisheries, the Polar Institute, and the Institute of Marine Research.

Olav Rune Godø, programme director at Norway’s Institute of Marine Research tells The Foreigner by phone from Hobart that “the MPA issue has been in discussion for many years, and ended up in a special CCAMLR meeting in Germany’s Bremerhaven in 2013. Norway has played an important role in coordinating thoughts from the fishing nations.”

The Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources, a consensus organisation, is composed of many nations. Some exploit fishing resources, others are interested in conservation. One of the challenges that the Norwegian delegation faced was to try to balance both.

No deal is obtained without agreement among all nations, which perhaps better-explains why so much effort and so many years were needed to arrive at today's adoption of the agreement, comments Mr Godø.

“We at the Institute have tried to find the right balance of these two regarding the deal, which requires a good deal of consensus, and contributed substantially towards trying to create balance in way that can be acceptable to all parties,” he says, adding that the agreement is also a big event for CCAMLR as an organisation.

“Obtaining consensus on an area double the size of the North Sea is no mean feat. Getting any sort of agreement during recent years has been quite difficult due to various confrontations. At the same time, this deal creates a new platform for further work.”

Fell short

Environmental organisations including the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) have also been involved in the process. The WWF’s Norwegian branch has worked actively with Norway’s delegation to bring about a favourable outcome.

Wisting, Bjaaland, Hassel, Amundsen, South Pole, 1911
Wisting, Bjaaland, Hassel, Amundsen, South Pole, 1911
Helmer Hanssen/Owner: Nat. Lib. Norway
“It’s a huge achievement,” states conservation director Karoline Andaur, “and like a mini UN, what with the EU and 24 other countries being involved.”

The deal divides the over 1,550,000 km2 marine protected area into three parts: 1,117,000 km2 banning all human activity entirely, 110,000 km2 which contains a research zone allowing for limited krill and toothfish fishing for research purposes, and 332,000 km2 which allows for controlled krill fishing.

The deal might be good news for protecting species such as whales and penguins, but Norway is the largest fishing nation in Antarctica, catching mainly krill and some toothfish – a species of cod icefish native to the Southern Ocean.

“Even though Norway’s catch of toothfish is quite small, her fishery is the biggest fishery in the Antarctica due to her krill fishing,” explains Ms Andaur. “The [Ross Sea] Agreement is a compromise. While this is undoubtedly good news, the deal is not as for as long as the WWF desired. We wanted permanent protection.”

Moreover, Norway, an Antarctic Treaty signatory famous for explorers such as Roald Amundsen, Thor Heyerdal, and Fridtjof Nansen, also has a presence in Queen Maud Land, on the Bouvet Island, and in the Arctic.

 “Norway did quite a good job in landing the agreement regarding the negations. And we hope that this experience will encourage Norway to ensure protection of Arctic waters in years to come. We have a similar situation there, where ice melting leaves massive areas unprotected from industrial expansion,” says Greenpeace Norway leader Truls Gulowsen.

Under pressure

Meanwhile, Jan-Gunnar Winther, director of the Norwegian Polar Institute calls today’s agreement “a milestone regarding The Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources’ (CCAMLR’s) work and work regarding marine protection areas (MPAs) in general.”

The Institute and its senior scientists have been part of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs-led Norwegian delegation from the beginning of the process, he explains.

Norway Foreign Minister Børge Brende
Norway Foreign Minister Børge Brende
M.B. Haga/Ministry of Foreign Affairs
“In Antarctica’s case, it’s particularly important to underline that the dimensions of science and the ecosystem have been two backbones of the MPA process. The Antarctic is a productive and rich environment from an ecological point of view.”

The geography and location of the Ross Sea also makes this MPA different to others in the world, which have increased in numbers over the years. One example is CCAMLR’s 2009 establishment of the world’s first high-seas one, the South Orkney Islands southern shelf MPA. This region covers 94,000 km2 in the south Atlantic.

“Moreover, the [Ross Sea] deal’s significant because the world’s oceans are under stress. They are important in providing food and energy for people,” states Mr Winther.

Norwegian Foreign Minister Børge Brende welcomes the new agreement that was reached this week.

“It’s an important milestone in international management of the Southern Ocean and conservation of marine resources,” he comments in a statement.

“Antarctica is one of the last great unspoiled natural areas in the world today. The new marine protected area in the Ross Sea lays a good foundation for long-term conservation and sustainable harvesting of marine resources in the Southern Ocean,” concludes Mr Brende.  




Published on Friday, 28th October, 2016 at 19:03 under the news category, by Michael Sandelson   .
Last updated on 28th October 2016 at 20:10.

This post has the following tags: rosssea, antarctic, southernocean, environment, penguins, whales, krill, toothfish, paywall.





  
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