The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Campaign to Create World's Largest Sanctuary in Antarctic Ocean Gains Momentum
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.
- Sea life beneath Antarctic ice shelf is changing, and warming may ... ›
- Marine life in Antarctica | Natural History Museum - YouTube ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Low-Fat Diets Rich in Fruits and Veggies May Reduce Women’s Risk of Breast Cancer Death, Study Finds
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.
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.
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.