Quantcast

Campaign to Create World's Largest Sanctuary in Antarctic Ocean Gains Momentum

Animals
A warming climate and expanding industrial fishing threaten the Antarctic Ocean and its iconic creatures such as penguins. Antarctica Bound / Flickr

Greenpeace's ship Arctic Sunrise is on its way to Antarctica, where the crew on board will be the first humans ever to visit the seafloor in the Weddell Sea.

The three-month expedition will aim to further the case for a massive ocean sanctuary.


In an effort to combat the threats of overfishing, plastic pollution and climate change in Antarctica, the European Union and Greenpeace have been pursuing since October an ambitious global campaign to create the largest protected area on Earth—a 1.8 million square kilometer (approximately 694,000 square mile) sanctuary in the Weddell Sea and around the Antarctic Peninsula.

The sanctuary proposal, which would stop industrial-scale krill fishing in an area about five times the size of Germany, would create "an urgently-needed safe zone" for creatures like penguins, whales and seals that call the area home, Greenpeace New Zealand campaigner, Amanda Larsson, said.

"It would mean the waters would be off-limits to the massive industrial fishing fleets that want to suck up the tiny shrimp-like krill on which Antarctic life relies," Larsson further explained.

The proposal was initiated by the EU and already has the support of several countries. Additionally, a quarter of a million people across the globe have signed up in support of the idea, according to the Guardian.

The plan will be presented at a conference of the Antarctic nations in October in Australia, where 24 national governments and the EU will decide its fate.

"In just over nine months' time the Antarctic Ocean Commission meets to discuss whether or not to make history and create the world's largest protected area," said Will McCallum, an oceans campaigner with Greenpeace UK. "We have until then to convince the members of this Commission to put aside their differences and create a safe haven for emperor penguins, blue whales, colossal squid and all the other Antarctic animals."

Larsson said the ship's crew will undertake pioneering scientific research in submarines, document the area's unique wildlife which is facing pressures from climate change, overfishing and pollution, and gather evidence of the urgent need for governments to create the sanctuary.

Crew on board the Arctic Sunrise before it leaves for the Antarctic, 2018

Julian Gutt from the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research in Germany, which introduced the original proposal, told the Guardian that the sanctuary would be an important move in creating a sustainable global ocean system.

"This will bring huge benefits in protecting this amazing ecosystem, in preserving the biodiversity and ecosystem functions of the ocean and in the wider fight against climate change," Gutt said.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Asian elephants frolic in Kaudulla Wewa at Kaudulla National Park in central Sri Lanka. David Stanley / CC BY 2.0

When it comes to saving some of the planet's largest animals, a group of researchers says that old methods of conservation just won't cut it anymore.

Read More Show Less
Pexels

A low-fat diet that prioritizes eating healthier foods like fruits and vegetables each day could lower the risk a woman's risk of dying from breast cancer, according to a multi-decade study published this month.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
smcgee / Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0

Several New York City Starbucks exposed customers to a potentially deadly pesticide, two lawsuits filed Tuesday allege.

Read More Show Less
Drinks with plastic straws on sale at London's Borough Market. Susie Adams / Getty Images

The UK government has set a date for a ban on the sale of single use plastics, The Guardian reported Wednesday. From April 2020, the sale of plastic straws, drink stirrers and cotton buds with plastic stems will be prohibited in England.

Read More Show Less
Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) speaks during the North American Building Trades Unions Conference at the Washington Hilton April 10, 2019 in Washington, DC. Zach Gibson / Getty Images

Colorado senator and 2020 hopeful Michael Bennet introduced his plan to combat climate change Monday, in the first major policy rollout of his campaign. Bennet's plan calls for the establishment of a "Climate Bank," using $1 trillion in federal spending to "catalyze" $10 trillion in private spending for the U.S. to transition entirely to net-zero emissions by 2050.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Foto-Rabe / Pixabay

When Trump's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced its replacement for the Obama-era Clean Power Plan in August 2018, its own estimates said the reduced regulations could lead to 1,400 early deaths a year from air pollution by 2030.

Now, the EPA wants to change the way it calculates the risks posed by particulate matter pollution, using a model that would lower the death toll from the new plan, The New York Times reported Monday. Five current or former EPA officials familiar with the plan told The Times that the new method would assume there is no significant health gain by lowering air pollution levels below the legal limit. However, many public health experts say that there is no safe level of particulate matter exposure, which has long been linked to heart and lung disease.

Read More Show Less
A crate carrying one of the 33 lions rescued from circuses in Peru and Columbia is lifted onto the back of a lorry before being transported to a private reserve on April 30, 2016 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Dan Kitwood / Getty Images

By Andrea Germanos

Animal welfare advocates are praising soon-to-be introduced legislation in the U.S. that would ban the use of wild animals in traveling circuses.

Read More Show Less
A tornado Monday in Union City, Oklahoma. TicToc by Bloomberg / YouTube screenshot

Extreme weather spawned 18 tornadoes across five states Monday, USA Today reported. Tornadoes were reported in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri and Arizona, but were not as dangerous as forecasters had initially feared, the Associated Press reported.

Read More Show Less