Nations may designate two Antarctic Marine Protected Areas

A group of 24 nations and the EU are meeting in Bremerhaven, Germany, July 11-16, to discuss revised proposals to create two marine protected areas (MPAs) in the ocean surrounding Antarctica. If approved, these may become the largest marine reserves on Earth, about the size of India.Antarctica map

The Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) was established in 1982 to safeguard Antarctic marine life, includes the following member states: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, China,
European Union, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Korea, Namibia, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Ukraine, United Kingdom, USA, and Uruguay.

This special meeting is "dedicated to further discussions on marine protected areas (MPAs) in the Southern Ocean. This meeting will be only the second time in CCAMLR’s 32-year history that it has met outside its normal annual meeting."

The two proposals:

1. Ross Sea region MPA proposal: submitted by the US and New Zealand, includes 600,000-sq mi. (1.6 million-sq-km) of non-contiguous area in and around the Ross Sea.

2. East Antarctica MPA proposal: submitted by Australia, France, and the European Union, covers about 600,000 sq mi. (1.6 million sq km) in East Antarctica.

The stated aims of the two proposals are to protect organisms and habitats in these relatively pristine, unexplored areas.

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