Meeting in Bremerhaven, Germany, last week, the group of nations charged with regulating Antarctic fishing failed to reach agreement on the establishment of marine protected areas due to Russian objections to the legality of the group’s mandate. In an email interview, Julia Jabour, leader of the Ocean and Antarctic Governance Research Program at the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies at the University of Tasmania, explained the process leading up to the talks and what the failure of talks means for Antarctic marine protection.
WPR: What was the process that led to the talks last week in Bremerhaven?
Julia Jabour: At the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development, a global representative network of marine protected areas (MPAs) was envisaged by 2012. Working to meet this deadline, the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) established the world’s first high seas MPA in 2009 for the South Orkney Islands southern shelf. At the 2012 CCAMLR meeting, four proposals on establishing MPAs were submitted for consideration under Conservation Measure 91-04, “General Framework for the Establishment of CCAMLR Marine Protected Areas.” This measure prescribes the process and importantly the six key objectives of MPAs: maintaining the viability and integrity of representative examples of marine ecosystems; protecting key ecosystem processes, habitats and species; establishing scientific reference areas; protecting vulnerable areas; protecting features critical to local ecosystems; and protecting the resilience of areas to climate change. MPA proposals must also take full account of the CCAMLR philosophy that conservation includes rational use.