New Zealand and USA scale back their proposal for Ross Sea MPA in bid for it’s approval by other nations


New Zealand and the United States have sharply reduced the extent of a proposed protected area in Antarctica’s Ross Sea, in a last-ditch effort to secure its acceptance at an international meeting next month.

Xinhua noted that after an initial CCAMLR meeting in Hobart, New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully expressed “deep disappointment” over the failure to secure an international marine reserve in Antarctic waters, but vowed to keep pushing the case. According to McCully attempts at establishing a consensus had been “scuttled by the exercise of an effective veto.”

CCAMLR operates by consensus. Ultimately all parties must agree to a decision, or at least choose to not disagree. Consensus decision making (a hallmark of the Antarctic Treaty System) leads to strong agreement and support for decisions that are made. But it can also mean that decisions can take a long time as doubts, criticisms and opposition are addressed.

Talks on proposals for marine protected areas (MPAs) by the 26- member Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) were abandoned Tuesday after theRussian and Ukrainian delegations questioned the CCAMLR’s legal authority to declare such reserves.

Xinhua quoted University of Canterbury law expert Professor Karen Scott who said that Russia’s legal concerns had no legal foundation as Russia had supported other marine protected areas on the high seas:

Although there is no global instrument that provides for an explicit right to create MPAs on the high seas, a number of treaties that require states to take measures to protect ocean biodiversity arguably provide implicit support for such measures… Relevant treaties include the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the 1992 Biodiversity Convention. States, including Russia, have agreed to protect 10 percent of the world’s oceans by 2020 under the 2010 Aichi Biodiversity Targets. This commitment was reaffirmed by the United Nations General Assembly in September 2011.”

The CCAMLR special meeting in Bremerhaven, Germany, was considering two MPA proposals: a New Zealand-United States proposal for the Ross Sea region and another by Australia, France and the European Union for a network of MPAs in East Antarctica.

Reports from the meeting suggested that attempts to establish a consensus had been “scuttled by the exercise of an effective veto, ” McCully said in a statement.

In a move aimed to help secure other nations’ approval of a large new MPA in Antarctica’s Ross Sea, New Zealand and the US have scaled back the size of their proposed protected area — from 2.28 million km2 to 1.34 million km2, a reduction of 41%.

Proposed Antarctic Protections and the States that proposed them

Proposed Antarctic Protections and the States that proposed them. See Nature (

The revised proposal is in response to meetings in July 2013, and in Bremerhaven of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) and its Scientific Committee, where the prior New Zealand/US proposal was discussed.

In a press release, New Zealand emphasized that the new plan — to be presented at next month’s annual meeting of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) in Hobart, Australia — would, at a total area of 1.34 million square kilometres, be the largest Marine Protected Area (MPA) in the world. However, the press release added, certain elements of the proposal (an earlier version of which had been rejected at a special CCAMLR meeting in Germany in July) had been altered in response to advice from CCAMLR’s Scientific Committee. The revised proposal will be considered by CCAMLR at its annual meeting this October in Hobart, Australia. The revised proposal is availble at the New Zbaland Minsitry of Foreign Affairs and Trade Website [click here].

According to MPA News:

Although the revised proposal is significantly smaller than its previous form, it would still amount to an enormous protected area, nearly all of which would be no-take (93%). Although the revision clarifies that the MPA would be subject to review and possible amendment every 10 years, it stops short of providing a sunset clause, under which the MPA would have a scheduled end date. China and other nations called for a sunset clause at the July meeting.”


One thought on “New Zealand and USA scale back their proposal for Ross Sea MPA in bid for it’s approval by other nations

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