Science

Antarctic Marine Protected Areas Could Be In Danger, Here’s What You Can Do To Help

By Rodney Rafols , Oct 14, 2016 03:00 AM EDT
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The Antarctic is full of wildlife and is largely untouched by man. However, it is still in danger as issues over its safety come into question. While marine wildlife in the region needs to be protected, there are also those who see the area as a place for fishing. That is now the issue facing protected areas in the Antarctic.

Stanford News reports that the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) would be meeting in Hobart, Australia. This meeting would be joined by 23 nations as well as the European Union. The issue stems from some nations that see the area as a source for marine resources, as Cassandra Brooks, a PhD. candidate at Stanford School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences said. Brooks is also the lead author of the study.

As the research shows, CCAMLR is said to have the opportunity to lead the way in negotiations for Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in the Antarctic region. However, the study also shows that CCAMLR has been failing in some of its duties. This could possibly have consequences on MPAs not only in Antarctica, but in other places as well, as Kristina Gjerde, co-author and legal scholar at the International Union for Conservation of Nature said.

One of the issues arising from the situation is how to define the concept of "rational use," as Phys Org reports. This is essential as the region has a large stock of marine life, some of which are also vital in the fishing industry. Large populations of fish are present, as well as krill. Krill is food for a number of fishes, birds and whales.

Rational use has been defined as fishing without causing damage to marine ecosystems. The definition, however, could be vague as it has to also define other terms such as catch limits for fishing. This has caused some nations to push rational use beyond its original definition.

Another issue has to do with sunset clauses. MPAs have been established with an indefinite time frame, though some nations suggest instead that such areas have expiration dates that range from 20 to 30 years. International politics also play a role in how the MPAs should be handled.

Though much of the issues are large, people could help in some ways by promoting a greater awareness to the Antarctic region and to the vast variety of life that could be at risk, should definitions governing MPAs be altered. Local communities near the areas could also have their own limits as to how much fishing is allowed.

While such efforts might be small in relation to the larger global and political issues that surround it, such efforts could help in making people have a stand about Antarctic MPAs. 

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