Last week, the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), a coalition of the EU and 24 member states, gathered in Hobart Australia to discuss a proposed 872,000 square mile ocean wildlife reserve in Antarctica. With much deliberation, due to lack of consensus, the decision was postponed.
Ultimately the debate was simple – Conservation versus Commercial interests. While the EU, US Australia and New Zealand pressed hard to find a workable way forward with instituting the Antarctic reserve, they were brought to a stalemate due to opposition from China, Russia, Japan, Korea and the Ukraine.
The parties did agree however agree to revisit the proposed ocean reserve at an intercessional meeting, in July 2013, in Germany. This is not the resolution we were hoping for, but it is far from a defeat, as it allows those in favor of establishing the reserve an opportunity to fortify their arguments.
The Chair of CCAMLR’s scientific committee strongly urged that only scientists should attend the intercessional meeting in Germany (not lawyers or industry people), noting that it was important not to politicize the Scientific Committee.
It is also worth noting that an NGO demonstration was mounted in front of the CCAMLR building, which saw excellent coverage from Australian media.
Hopefully, with an increased media microscope on August’s meeting as well as a trimming of the political fat, we may get our historic Antarctic reserve.