An extraordinary meeting of the Commission of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) to establish Marine Protected Areas (MPA) in the Ross Sea region and in East Antarctica wrapped up on Tuesday without an agreement after Russia with support from Ukraine blocked the initiative.
The outcome is not what we expected or hoped for ... We did not reach a consensus, Terje Lobach, the Commission's chairperson, said on Tuesday at the end of the meeting in the northern German town of Bremerhaven.
Delegates at the conference in Bremerhaven looked at two proposals to create huge ocean sanctuaries off Antarctica.
The first, which was proposed by the United States and New Zealand, would have covered an area of 1.6 million square kilometers (640,000 square miles) of the Ross Sea, a deep bay on the Pacific side of the continent.
The other, supported by the European Union, France, and Australia, would have protected 1.9 million square kilometers on the Indian Ocean side of Antarctica.
However, the Russian delegation supported by neighboring Ukraine, raised questions about the CCAMLR legal power to implement any such proposal, according to environmental groups.
The actions of the Russian delegation have put international cooperation and goodwill at risk, the two key ingredients needed for global marine conservation, said Andrea Kavanagh, in charge of the Southern Ocean Sanctuaries campaign at the US green group Pew Environment.
After two years of preparation, including this meeting, which Russia requested to settle the scientific case for the Ross Sea and East Antarctic proposals, we leave with nothing, Steve Campbell, director of the Antarctic Ocean Alliance of environmental groups, said.
In conciliatory statement CCAMLR said that “establishing MPAs is a complex process involving a large amount of scientific research as well as international diplomacy.
Although CCAMLR members benefited from the extensive exchange of views on MPA in the CCAMLR Convention Area, agreeing on two major proposals for the establishment of MPA proved to be a task requiring more time than was available during the two-day Special Meeting. The Meeting decided that further consideration of the proposals was needed. Therefore, there will be further discussions among Members until CCAMLR annual meeting in October 2013 when the proposals may be further discussed”.
The head of the German delegation, Walter Dübner, expressed hope that an agreement could still be reached at a later date. He told the German news agency that as he broke off Tuesday's negotiations, he had called on the Russian delegation to come up with its own proposals.
We should start to look for compromise solutions for the two proposals that are on the table, Dübner said.
A meeting in Hobart, Australia, last October also failed to reach an agreement, due to the objections of Russia, China and Ukraine. The next meeting is scheduled for this coming October in Hobart, by which time Dübner said he hoped the Commission will have been able to address Russia's legal concerns.
“CCAMLR history shows that decisions involving complex issues, such as establishing MPA, require a substantial amount of time and consideration. This has been demonstrated in the Commission’s discussions on issues in the past such as satellite based vessel monitoring systems and matters associated with illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing”, concluded the official CCAMLR release.