World environmental conservation body Greenpeace is planning to build world’s largest wildlife reserve in Antarctica. The proposed ‘Antarctic Ocean Sanctuary‘ (originally a concept of EU) would measure 1.8 million square kilometres (1.1 million square miles approx.), making it the largest protected area on earth, and provide a safe haven for marine life from industrial fishing. It will be a fishing-free zone.
- The Sanctuary to be built in the Weddell Sea has been submitted by the European Union and is backed by the German government. The next Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) to be beld in October 2018 in Australia, will consider the proposal.
- The area is the natural habitat of numerous whales, seals, penguins and many kinds of fish and marine life.
- To make the sanctuary possible, Greenpeace has sent a research vessel ‘the Arctic Sunrise’ on a three-month voyage to Antarctica. It will pass through the waters of the Southern Ocean to document the effects of climate change, pollution and fishing on native wildlife to build support for a proposed sanctuary.
Why sanctuary needed?
- According to the Greenpeace, the sanctuary is needed to put the area off limits to the krill fishing industry which is looking to expand into the area. Krill is a keystone species in the Antarctic ecosystem – most wildlife is either directly or indirectly dependent on it, including penguins, whales and seals. The Antarctic ocean supports an abundance of incredible life: penguins, whales, fish, seals, and colossal squid. But a warming climate and expanding industrial fishing are threatening this vital ocean and its iconic creatures.
- In 2016 a small sanctuary around the Rosa sea in Antarctic was built to conserve the native creatures which proved that global cooperation to protect the oceans is possible. Now they are in the process of building the larger one.
What is CCMLR
- The Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) was established by international convention in 1982 with the objective of conserving Antarctic marine life.
- The organisation was established in response to increasing commercial exploitation of Antarctic krill resources, a keystone component of the Antarctic ecosystem
- It is an international commission comprising 24 countries and and the EU as a members.
The CAMLR Convention entered into force on 7 April 1982.