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Australia, together with the European Union and its member states, is co-sponsoring the proposal for an East Antarctic Marine Protected Area and resubmitting it at the at the annual meeting of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR).
CCAMLR is a consensus-based organisation consisting of 26 members (25 countries and the European Union). Over 300 marine scientists, resource managers and policy makers representing 26 international delegations as well as representatives from other related agencies and industries are meeting at CCAMLR’s Secretariat in Hobart, Australia, to review current practice and consider new measures to conserve and manage marine ecosystems in the Southern Ocean.
Australia has proposed that an area comprising million square kilometres in the Antarctic Ocean be demarcated as a marine sanctuary. However, the proposal was opposed by China and Russia at the CCAMLR’s last annual meeting, according to media reports.
“When established, the East Antarctic MPA will protect distinctive deep-water reefs and feeding areas for marine mammals, penguins and other seabirds,” said Gillian Slocum, who is heading the Australian delegation to the CCAMLR.
According to a press release by the Australian Antarctic Division (part of the Australian government’s Department of the Environment and Energy), the proposed MPA would also provide scientific reference zones to assist with understanding the effects of fishing outside protected areas, and the consequences of climate change for Southern Ocean ecosystems.
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