Bremerhaven Update

Heads of Delegation at the Special Meeting at CCAMLR to decide on marien protection in the Ross Sea

Heads of Delegation at the Special Meeting at CCAMLR to decide on marien protection in the Ross Sea

I’ve made it to Bremerhaven, and after seven years pushing for marine protection in the Ross Sea my journey may soon be over. The next 24 hours are crucial for the Ross Sea – a choice will be made as to whether or not an MPA is created and how comprehensive it will be.


Evan Bloom head of delgation for US confers with Carolyn Schwalger, head of delegation for New Zealand before presenting the joint MPA to delegates

The decision making arm of CCAMLR – the Commission – opened today and I heard New Zealand and the US present their joint Ross Sea proposal to the members of the commission. It was wonderful to hear both countries speak about the importance of the Ross Sea, and the need to protect it – describing it as ecologically significant and the most pristine marine ecosystem on Earth.


Russian Delegation on right.


After that things started to slide. As told at a lunchtime media briefing by representatives from the commission, Russia and the Ukraine had challenged CCAMLR’s legal right to establish MPAs around Antarctica. There were also concerns expressed by some members in the meetings about the size of MPAs, their duration and management plans.


This hot room in Germany is a long way from the Ross Sea


Seeing the politics unfold in a hot conference room in Germany was surreal. I couldn’t help but think back to those fledgling Emporer penguin chicks I filmed years ago in the Ross Sea. They would now be sitting out in some blizzard huddling together to survive the cold, while  25 people at the opposite end of the world decide the fate of their home – the world’s last great ocean wilderness.

I’m glad I came here and have been able to see CCAMLR operating in full swing. I have a more realistic view of the challenges involved in creating these MPA’s and I hope that New Zealand and the United States hold their ground in the face of some very strong opposition.

What I see playing out at CCAMLR is people expressing concerns about  rights to the diminishing resources of the world. People driven by the fear of losing them as opposed to the values of protecting them. It’s a sad indictment of humanity that we can’t gift this unique corner of the world to future generations – I’m learning to let go of those higher expectations, but my head hangs at the loss of one of Earth’s great natural treasures – our last untouched ocean.

Adélie penguins are one of only two species of true Antarctic penguins and they are the southernmost breeding birds in the world. Photo by John B. Weller.

Adélie penguins are one of only two species of true Antarctic penguins and they are the southernmost breeding birds in the world. Photo by John B. Weller.

4 thoughts on “Bremerhaven Update

  1. Devastated, just devastated that talks have stalled. We needed this on every level. Hard to sustain hope when a case so persuasively presented is shot down because of short term economic gain. Thoughts with the Last Ocean team. Any glimmers?? What now?

  2. For the life of me I don’t understand how these fishing nations ever were permitted to ‘set everything up’ in such a way that this ruthless industry may continue unaltered unless/without they all first agreeing to any change…. a loaded dice!…what a load of ….! do they think that they own the place!

  3. you are doing a great job of bringing this to the worlds attention. It is sad that the temporary economic well being of a few, out values the long term benefits for all. I wish there were some way of changing their minds, it is obvious that common sense is not enough…

  4. Peter,

    My name is Kelly and I am from Connecticut, USA. I first viewed your documentary as an exchange student studying Introductory Antarctic Biology at Auckland University last winter. That class combined with The Last Ocean instilled a great passion for Antarctica in me, and I cannot thank you enough for helping me to discover this passion -you are an incredible film maker and I commend you for using your talents to help educate and raise awareness about the Southern Ocean’s plight. I have since graduated university in New York and am looking forward to getting involved in Antarctic research and/or conservation in the future.

    The efforts in Bremerhaven by CCAMLR to establish a marine protected area in the Ross Sea are extremely frightening and discouraging. If we cannot work together to protect the last pristine ocean on earth, we have a long road ahead of us towards successful oceanic conservation and policy. I have signed the petition, wrote to the leaders of the critical countries involved in this decision, and am now at a loss. What more can we do to change the minds of those in opposition of the proposed marine protected area?

    If this decision fails in the next 24 hours, will that be the end of the discussion for marine protected areas in the Southern Ocean? I sincerely hope not.

    Thank you for the continued updates,

    Kelly Randall

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