Australia hopes this year’s annual meeting of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) has paved the way for the adoption of Antarctic Marine Protected areas next year.

The leader of the Australian delegation to CCAMLR and Director of the Australian Antarctic Division, Dr Nick Gales, said the Commission’s annual meeting, which wound up in Hobart today, had devoted a significant amount of time discussing proposals for Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in East Antarctica and the Ross Sea region.

“Regrettably, the Commission was again unable to agree to the establishment of either of the MPA proposals,” Dr Gales said.

“As a consensus based organisation, all members must agree to a proposal for it to be adopted, and this was not the case with regard to the proposed MPAs.

“It is pleasing that some progress was made in identifying and addressing the remaining concerns of members who are not yet ready to commit to the establishment of MPAs.

“We very much welcome indications from China that it could support the establishment of an MPA in the Ross Sea region, a proposal put forward by New Zealand and the United States.”

“We expect that this will be a catalyst to also establishing MPAs in the East Antarctic.”

Dr Gales says Australia remains deeply committed to protecting and conserving the unique Southern Ocean ecosystem and will continue to work to achieve an outcome, hopefully next year.

Jointly with France and the European Union, Australia is seeking endorsement for a representative system of MPAs in East Antarctica, totalling approximately one million square kilometres.

The MPAs seek to conserve examples of the region’s biodiversity and offer important reference areas that will help monitor and understand the effects of fishing outside the MPAs, as well as the consequences of climate change on Antarctic and Southern Ocean ecosystems.

Other important outcomes were achieved at this year’s CCAMLR meeting:

  • Australia emphasised our commitment to the conservation of krill and developing sustainable strategies for managing the fishery. The Commission continued its work on the orderly and precautionary development of the krill fishery with discussion on increasing observer coverage in the fishery and continuing negotiations on developing a feedback management system.
  • The Commission agreed to a joint proposal by Australia and Norway to establish a climate change focussed group to provide information and develop advice and recommendations on how to integrate climate change considerations into the work of the Commission.
  • The Commission also agreed to important improvements to CCAMLR’s compliance framework that is an integral component that ensures Southern Ocean fisheries are sustainably managed and monitored.