Southern Ocean sight. (Photo: Subpesca)
Marine protected areas to be created in the Antarctic zone
Thursday, June 07, 2012, 16:30 (GMT + 9)
The Scientific Committee of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), made up of specialists from different countries, met for five days at the headquarters of the Undersecretariat of Fisheries (Subpesca) in Chile to assess the possibility of creating marine protected areas in zones of Chilean and Argentinean jurisdiction.
At the workshop, the participants were able to identify the 10 main conservation objectives and gathered all the existing information among the member countries in order to help develop the Representative System of Marine Protected Areas (SRAMP) under CCAMLR.
The workshop was attended by experts in conservation and marine protected areas, fisheries specialists and representatives of the industry and of the civil society from Chile, Argentina, Japan, US, Norway, UK and Australia.
Currently, the world's biodiversity is threatened by pollution and habitat degradation, climate change and overfishing.
Given this serious situation, the marine protected areas are useful tools to help protect biodiversity and complement the sustainable use of natural resources.
One of the ideas is to identify critical habitats, balancing conservation with the rational use of resources in the Southern Ocean, reported Subpesca.
According to Camilo Sanhueza, director of Antarctica in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the purpose of the meeting was to reflect on and discuss the identification of marine protected areas.
"Our country considers the creation of Marine Protected Areas is positive, since they are created in a transparent way and they are based on science. Chile supports international cooperation in the study, proposal and development of these areas, so last year, as part CCAMLR’s tasks, along with Argentina we proposed to hold this meeting," explained Sanhueza.
Some of the topics discussed were:
- The identification of the most important conservation objectives for the area of the Antarctic Peninsula;
- The collection of relevant information for the preparation of a SRAMP;
- The design of working methodologies.
The head of Subpesca, Pablo Galilea, believes that for Chile it was important to hold this workshop in order to regulate an appropriate balance between resource conservation and ecosystems, and their rational use.
On the other hand, Javier Arata, the Chilean representative to the CCAMLR Scientific Committee and a scientist at the Chilean Antarctic Institute (Inach), stated that the 10 agreed protection goals "include physical features, habitat characteristics, key ecosystem processes, and the distribution range of some species during the breeding season."
"It was also agreed to use the historical distribution of the krill fishery as a cost unit for the spatial planning of Marine Protected Areas. I think the two biggest achievements of this workshop have been to describe the conservation goals and to make a good collection of all the existing information among CCAMLR member countries," summarized Arata.
All the issues that were covered during the five days the meetings lasted will be reviewed at the next meeting of Ecosystem Monitoring and Management (EMM), a subgroup of the CCAMLR Scientific Committee, in July this year.
By Analia Murias