New Alliance calls for unprecedented protection for Antarctica’s oceans

The Antarctic Ocean Alliance, an international collective of environmental organizations and high- profile supporters, have come together to call for the world’s largest network of marine protected areas and no-take marine reserves to be established to protect Antarctica’s Southern Ocean.

The Alliance’s public campaign “Join the Watch”, launched around the world last month, is inviting a global audience to participate in the campaign and its call for Antarctic marine protection.

This campaign follows a recent Antarctic Ocean Alliance (AOA) report entitled ‘Antarctic Ocean Legacy: A Marine Reserve for the Ross Sea’ outlines a proposal and rationale for a fully protected marine reserve in the Ross Sea, to become the keystone of the world’s largest network of marine protected areas and no-take marine reserves in the Southern Ocean around Antarctica.

Proposed marine protected area to span 36 million km²
Penguins hunting. Photo credit: John Weller

Penguins hunting. Photo credit: John B. Weller

The AOA proposes the creation of a network of marine protected areas and no-take marine reserves in 19 specific areas in the Southern Ocean around Antarctica, spanning 3.6 million square kilometres.

The regulatory body responsible for this region – the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) – has agreed to create a network of marine protected areas in some of the ocean around Antarctica this year and next. However, CCAMLR meets with limited public participation and no media access and the Alliance believes that, without public attention during the process, only minimal protection will be achieved.

Antarctic waters make up almost 10% of the world’s seas and are some of the most pristine left on earth. Home to almost 10,000 unique and diverse species such as penguins, seals and whales, these waters are now at risk from the impacts of commercial fishing and climate change. The Alliance is calling for 19 critical habitats in Antarctica’s Southern Ocean to be protected, starting with the Ross Sea.

Edward Norton ‘Joins the Watch’
Weddell Seal, Ross Sea, Antarctica. Photo credit: John B. Weller

Weddell Seal, Ross Sea, Antarctica. Photo credit: John B. Weller

In agreeing to “Join the Watch”, Edward Norton said, “There’s a moment of opportunity here to apply pressure and send a signal that millions of people are watching this process and are saying, ’Don’t let us down.'”

Alliance members and supporters include actor, activist and UN Biodiversity Ambassador Edward Norton, Oceanographer Dr. Sylvia Earle, entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson, as well as 16 environmental and conservation organizations including Greenpeace, WWF, the International Fund for Animal Welfare, Oceans 5 and Mission Blue.

The fate of the Antarctic marine environment is about to be decided and the world knows nothing about it” said Alliance Campaign Director Steve Campbell. “Now is the time to protect this amazing environment but we’ll need the global public involved to make that happen.

About the Antarctic Ocean Alliance

The AOA is a coalition of high-profile individuals such as actor and UN Biodiversity Ambassador Edward Norton, Oceanographer Dr. Sylvia Earle and entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson as well as leading environmental groups. These include Greenpeace, WWF, Humane Society International, the Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition (ASOC), the Blue Marine Foundation (UK), Mission Blue (US), Oceans 5 (US), Deep Wave (Germany), The Last Ocean, Forest & Bird (NZ), ECO (NZ), and associate partners the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the Korean Federation for Environmental Movement (KFEM), Greenovation Hub (China), Oceana, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), Ocean Planet (Australia) and other groups worldwide.

Watch this video about Antarctica and the Antarctic Ocean Alliance’s campaign

Further information and media
Join the Watch
See who else is watching and why
Download the AOA Report ‘Antarctic Ocean Legacy: A Marine Reserve for the Ross Sea’ 

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