Our directory of things of interest

University Directory

Antarctic ocean sanctuary blocked by Russia, China

Antarctic ocean sanctuary blocked by Russia, China Superstock
14 Nov
The latest international attempt to protect one million square kilometres of Southern Ocean has failed to reach a consensus

First proposed in 2011, the declaration of an internationally-recognised Marine Protected Area (MPA) around East Antarctica in the Southern Ocean would instil catch limits for krill, tooth fish and other Antarctic marine life.

The discussions took place at the latest meeting of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) which took place in Hobart, Australia. After several years of failed attempts, this year the EU and Australia shrunk the size of the MPA from 1.9 million sq km – as was initially proposed – to one million sq km. Despite its blocking the proposal at every previous meeting, it had been hoped that Russia would this time be ready to accept the reduced MPA. However, Russia challenged the proposal once again, and was unexpectedly joined by China in blocking the MPA for another year. Ukraine, which last year voted with Russia to block the proposal, this year voted with the EU to approve it.

'The waters around Antarctica are among the least damaged ecosystems in the world,' said Richard Page, CCAMLR delegate and Oceans Campaigner for Greenpeace. 'It's a shame that geopolitical interests are overriding genuine efforts to protect large areas of the ocean for future generations.'

611-Antarctic-0-CS2 Southern-Ocean3The boundaries of the Southern Ocean vary seasonally and geographically, but are generally understood to surround Antarctica up to latitude 60°S. It represents approximately 15 per cent of the world’s ocean area

The CCAMLR was established in 1982, with the goal of ensuring conservation of Antarctic marine life. CCAMLR members comprise of the EU and 24 other states, including Australia, the USA, Russia and China.

Fishing for Antarctic toothfish (Dissostichus mawsoni) started in 1998, and escalated to a peak of 4,448 tonnes in 2006. The 2013 catch was 4,064 tonnes. A close relative, the Patagonian toothfish (Dissostichus eleginoides), has been fished in the Pacific and Southern Ocean since the late 1970s, after successfully being branded to consumers as 'Chilean Sea Bass'. The CCAMLR reports fishing for Patagonian toothfish peaked at 16,912 tonnes in 2000, and was 10,707 tonnes in 2013. However, both toothfish species have suffered severely from illegal fishing, with the CCAMLR estimated catches of five to six times the official numbers, putting both populations in danger of crashing.

Outcomes from the Hobart meeting which were agreed upon include setting catch limits on existing CCAMLR-managed fisheries, further research towards studying toothfish, and an agreement to share vessel monitoring data in the Southern Ocean. The CCAMLR will meet next in Warsaw, Poland, in June 2015.

Related items

Subscribe and Save!

geo line break v3

Free eBooks - Geographical Newsletter

Sign up for our weekly newsletter today and get a FREE eBook collection!

geo line break v3

University of Winchester

geo line break v3


Aberystwyth University University of Greenwich The University of Derby




Travel the Unknown

NEVER MISS A STORY - Follow Geographical on Social

Want to stay up to date with breaking Geographical stories? Join the thousands following us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and stay informed about the world.

More articles in NATURE...


A type of panel has been invented that can generate…


In the 4th century BC, Aristotle proposed that earthquakes were…


The Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management pledges to achieve net…


Earthquakes from time immemorial have attracted the attention of the…


A planned kayaking expedition in Nepal took on a whole…


Scientists from Bristol University are working in conjunction with EDF…


In the 1930s, Charles Richter developed a simple scale for…


Researchers at Colombia University have answered a question that has…


How prepared can any government or city be against a…


Benjamin Hennig creates a series of cartograms to demonstrate the…


Could grey seals singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star help develop…


Deep sea expert Dr Alex Rogers explains the importance of…


Analysis of coral cores, extracted from coral reefs in the…


Celebrities and animal welfare groups have been expressing their disappointment…


In a series of photographs from his recent trip to…


In contrast to established wisdom, one group of scientists believe…


Parkesine, celluloid and Bakelite – the first three kinds of…