Saturday, April 26, 2014

NO EXCUSES: WE NEED TO PROTECT THE ANTARCTIC. - Only less than one percent of the world’s oceans are currently set aside as “protected”

Maria Damanaki, Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries:

"Did you know that only less than one percent of the world’s oceans are currently set aside as “protected”? Only a handful of those areas are spared human interference altogether. Today’s International Penguin Day reminds us of the need to protect Antarctic habitats before it’s too late. If we are to save the last remaining pockets of pristine ocean and the thousands of unique species living there, we need to act fast.

Some progress has been made: through international efforts, the first marine protected area in the Southern Ocean was adopted in 2009. Near the South Orkney Islands fishing is now banned except for scientific purposes. We are still on a learning curve and it may be a few years before it runs completely smoothly. But in the meantime the site’s krill and squids will have fed generations of Antarctic penguins. We are now moving to the next step – there are currently proposals to protect the waters of East Antarctica and the Ross Sea before the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) that deserve international support. A decision could be taken in October already.

The fact that these areas are part of the common good does not grant us a free pass to do nothing. On the contrary: the EU is also fighting for an international agreement to cover precisely those areas which fall through the net of direct responsibility of any one country. And we are aiming for this by next year.

Turning back the clock on ecosystems is an urgent matter, and one that I’m not comfortable postponing. No excuse there."
International Penguin Day

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