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Australia will continue push for East Antarctic Marine Protected Area

Corals, sponges and a fish photographed in the Southern Ocean.
Underwater habitat of the Southern Ocean. (Photo: Martin Riddle)

Australia will continue to push for Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) off East Antarctica, despite the proposal not being adopted at the annual Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) meeting in Hobart.

Progress was made at the two week meeting towards the adoption of the revised Australia, France and European Union proposal for a one million square kilometre MPA, and it was given broad support by many CCAMLR members.

The leader of the Australian delegation to CCAMLR and Director of the Australian Antarctic Division, Dr Tony Fleming, said members were pleased with the revisions to the proposal but some felt these needed to go further.

“While Australia is disappointed consensus was not achieved, we are pleased about the constructive nature of the discussions we have had over the last two weeks,” Dr Fleming said.

The revised proposal considered at this meeting was reduced from 1.9 million square kilometres in 2011.

“Some countries had reservations about the area covered in the MPA and the process for determining when activities need to be managed in the multiple use areas, but we are confident we will be able to address these issues before the next meeting.

“Australia is optimistic CCAMLR will be ready to adopt the East Antarctic MPAs when we next meet in 2015.”

Several other important outcomes were achieved at this year’s meeting, including:

  • Improvements to a number of compliance measures including significant enhancement of the Catch Documentation Scheme to better enable monitoring of the movement of toothfish from point of landing through to markets.
  • Agreement on a Search and Rescue (SAR) arrangement between the CCAMLR Secretariat and the relevant Maritime Rescue Coordination centres to enable sharing of Vessel Monitoring Data for search and rescue operations in the Southern Ocean.
  • The Commission also endorsed holding a second CCAMLR Symposium in Chile in 2015, cosponsored by Chile, Australia and the United States, to discuss priority issues for the Commission in the future.

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