Antarctic marine parks blocked

Written By miftah nugraha on Rabu, 17 Juli 2013 | 19.55

TWO Antarctic marine park proposals have been blocked by what supporters described as an ambush by Russia and Ukraine.

An agreement on an East Antarctica Marine Protected Area proposal had been the great hope at last year's Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) meeting, in Hobart, which involved more than 30 countries.

When consensus could not be reached in Hobart, a special meeting was called in Bremerhaven, Germany, this week to consider the proposal, developed by Australia, France and the European Union, and a completing proposal backed by New Zealand and United States.

"Issues were raised regarding the legal mandate of CCAMLR to adopt the Marine Protected Areas," Australian Antarctic Division director Tony Fleming said.

"This issue blocked substantive discussion on the proposals. Australia and most CCAMLR nations are of the view that CCAMLR does have a mandate. Nonetheless consensus could not be reached on either plan."

Dr Fleming said he believed some progress had been made this week.

"Between now and the next CCAMLR meeting we will continue to work hard with all CCAMLR nations to progress the East Antarctic proposal," he said.

"Australia remains optimistic."

Hollywood actor Leonardo DiCaprio added a touch of star power to last year's Hobart negotiations by urging delegates to approve a sweeping sanctuary to protect thousands of polar species.

"The future of the Southern Ocean is in our hands," DiCaprio wrote in an email to supporters of activist group Avaaz.

"The whales and penguins can't speak for themselves, so it's up to us to defend them. Let's change negotiators' minds with a massive wave of public pressure."

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