In a joint statement published today, the EU, France (on behalf of its overseas territories), the US, Australia and New Zealand called on the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) to adopt two important science-based proposals to establish Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in East Antarctica and in the Ross Sea.
An MPA is a designated area where specific rules are adopted to manage human activities, such as research or fishing, for the protection and conservation of marine biodiversity in that area. Therefore different rules apply in different MPAs depending on the management objectives chosen.
Nature conservation and fisheries management are the main reasons why MPAs are established.
Mrs Damanaki said: "Antarctica is one of the last pristine areas of our globe. Still, its ecosystems are highly vulnerable – and urgent action is required to protect them." She added: "The time has come to work together, constructively and with determination towards the adoption of these Marine Protected Areas."
The objective is to declare seven conservation zones in Eastern Antarctica to establish a system which is representative for all biogeographic areas and based on the best scientific evidence available. The selected areas are home to a distinctive water flora and fauna. A wide range of sea marine mammals, penguins and other seabirds find important feeding grounds here. Other areas serve as nursery grounds of Antarctic krill, Antarctic toothfish and Antarctic silverfish.
The proposed MPAs also have an important role to play in research in order to better understand the effects of fishing outside the MPAs as well as for climate change related research.
The total surface of the proposed MPAs is approximately 1.63 million square kilometres (slightly less than half the size of the territory of the EU).
The CCAMLR meeting takes place from 23 October – 1 November 2013, in Hobart, Tasmania.
For more information and maps of the proposed areas: