ASOC Intervention 16 July 2013
ASOC thanks the proponents who worked so hard to develop the proposals, and thanks the CCAMLR Members who worked seriously to try to reach an agreement on these proposals at this meeting. We also thank Germany for its great work as host.
Last year in Hobart, CCAMLR took the extraordinary step of planning this intersessional meeting to address the MPA proposals for the Ross Sea and East Antarctica. These proposals are the result of years of discussion and planning starting in 2004, both on the part of the proponent countries and of many CCAMLR Members. We all thought, based on the terms of reference for the meeting, we were coming here to discuss the substance of these proposals and to find the common ground needed to designate them. The opportunity for CCAMLR to once again begin to meet its commitment to designate a representative system of MPAs has sadly been squandered.
Rather than discussing the merits and substance of the proposals on the table, CCAMLR’s legal basis to designate MPAs has been called in question. As many Members have noted, the provisions of the Convention are clear. CCAMLR has already created an MPA in the South Orkneys. Conservation Measure 91-04 provides a process to designate and manage MPA according to agreed objectives of MPAs. There is no doubt about CCAMLR’s competence and mandate in regard to MPAs. Questioning CCAMLR’s mandate and legal basis to designate MPAs undermines CCAMLR’s spirit of cooperation
ASOC is extremely disappointed that the meeting is ending without any result and without a clear path towards a successful outcome on the two proposals in Hobart. After all this time and after so much effort, that is completely unacceptable. CCAMLR cannot function if its Members do not come to the table in good faith.
Because of the importance of protecting Antarctic marine ecosystems, there is unprecedented public interest in CCAMLR’s work on MPAs and in this meeting. CCAMLR Members have the enormous responsibility of protecting the Southern Ocean – more than 10% of the world’s oceans – on behalf of their citizens and the whole planet. CCAMLR took a very progressive step towards honouring this responsibility when it agreed to create a system of MPAs, which would additionally contribute towards the fulfilment of numerous international commitments to create high seas MPAs worldwide.
CCAMLR has a reputation for taking bold action in its management of the Southern Ocean, for leading the way for other organizations. Now is not the time for CCAMLR to become a follower. There is a growing global consensus that MPAs are vital to the long-term health of the oceans – 70% of our planet – and in recognition of this, CCAMLR pledged to do its part to implement MPAs in Antarctica. CCAMLR Members must now decide whether that promise will ultimately go down in history as an empty one. We hope that CCAMLR can designate the two proposals at the next meeting.