4 November 2013
Negotiations to protect the Antarctic ocean ecosystem break down
Negotiations held in Hobart, Tasmania by the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources failed to reach an agreement to protect the ocean ecosystem in the Antarctic. The United States and New Zealand proposed a 500,000 square mile reserve in the Southern Ocean around Antarctica. Australia, France, and the European Union proposed a network of protected areas in the eastern Antarctic region. Both proposals were blocked due to the resistance of Russia, China, and Ukraine. Agreement between twenty-four members of the Commission and the European Union is required for the adoption of a proposal.
The resisting states argue that such reserves would cut off their access to fish stocks and undermine the fishing industries. However, fisheries scientists state that the reserves would help protect and restore the ecosystem from depletion caused by overfishing, pollution, and climate change. Yuri Onodera, climate adviser for Friends of the Earth Japan and attendee at the conference, stated, ‘once again, national interests and politics are a hurdle to the international interest of protecting the environment.’