We have joined forces with Blue Marine Foundation (BLUE) to support the designation of marine protected areas (MPAs) in Antarctica’s waters. The mission is to protect over four million square kilometres of ocean – without this protection, the habitat and the thousands of species that rely on it are at grave risk. Head of BLUE's International Projects Rory Moore explains why this is so important.
Antarctica is home to nearly 10,000 unique and diverse species, including 15 species of whale and five species of penguin. The nutrient-rich waters encourage blooms of plankton and swarms of krill, which form the basis of the entire ocean food chain. Designating the three proposed Antarctic MPAs – the Weddell Sea, East Antarctica and the Antarctic Peninsular – will protect biodiversity, while mitigating the impacts of climate change and providing reference areas for scientific research.
Antarctica is under increasing pressure from industrial fishing, unregulated tourism and overexploitation of resources. The Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) failed to rise to the occasion in 2020 – and fulfil their mandate – and designate new MPAs that together would have heralded the biggest ever act of environmental protection. CCAMLR also decided to allow an IUU fishing vessel to continue to fish. This means that we will need to redouble our efforts in 2021 to ensure that there is pressure on CCAMLR to live up to its principles and commitments to conserve Antarctica's marine ecosystems.
Looking ahead, the real story is that the political momentum behind marine protection in Antarctica is growing and unstoppable. BLUE will build this momentum in collaboration with The Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition. Through scientific evidence, increased public awareness and political advocacy, we will ensure that Antarctica’s biodiversity is protected forever.
BLUE’s research team based in Patagonia are preparing for an expedition to Antarctica aboard sailing vessel Saoirse at a time when the great southern continent is relatively quiet due to travel restrictions. This is a unique opportunity to sample and document Antarctic waters and marine life and to illustrate how Antarctica is healthier and more resilient without human-induced pressures.
To learn more about Blue Marine Foundation’s work, and see how you can get involved, click HERE.
To mark the launch on this partnership, we developed the Antarctic Protector Parka to equip the men and women working in the region, an expedition-grade parka made from recycled plastic bottles. Learn more HERE.
See the full partnership details HERE.