The body that regulates these waters – the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) – has a mandate to establish a system of marine protected areas (MPAs) in Antarctica’s Southern Ocean, home to almost 10,000 unique and diverse species, many of which cannot be found anywhere else in the world. But the fate of this protection hangs in the balance with a number of countries failing to support large-scale marine protection through the Commission. The Antarctic Ocean Alliance (AOA) – over 30 global organisations working together to protect the Southern Ocean – submits that there are a number of critical reasons why large-scale, permanent protection that ensures Southern Ocean biodiversity should be established. These include: the success of the precautionary principle in ensuring healthy oceans; the need for an intact laboratory to study the impacts of climate change and ocean acidification and other scientific studies; the need for ensuring protection established be lasting rather than short-term; and, most importantly, the brief window of opportunity right now to leave a important conservation legacy in the Southern Ocean.
The Antarctic Ocean Alliance (AOA) is a coalition of leading environmental and conservation organisations working to establish a network of designated, no-take marine reserves and marine protected areas in the Antarctic. This will be the most comprehensive regime of its kind on the planet. With such a network in place, key Antarctic ocean habitats and wildlife would be protected from human interference.