NZ risks political ‘train-wreck’ in rejecting joint US Ross Sea marine reserve proposal – AOA



Posted on 06 September 2012  | 
WELLINGTON, 3 September 2012 -- Plans for a marine reserve in the Ross Sea are in trouble after Cabinet rejected a draft agreement with the United States Government on a joint proposal to create the world’s biggest marine reserve in Antarctica’s Ross Sea.

In less than 50 days, the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) – the body that regulates fishing and protection of these waters – will meet in Hobart, Tasmania to debate proposals for Ross Sea protection. The 24 nations (plus the EU) of CCAMLR makes decisions by consensus and, the AOA says, separate, competing proposals from NZ and the US risks undermining the chance of a Ross Sea consensus agreement.

“Cabinet’s unreasonable rejection of a proposal negotiated between US and NZ officials puts at risk the chances of a Ross Sea marine reserve later this year,” said Antarctic Ocean Alliance New Zealand coordinator Geoff Keey.

“The Antarctic Ocean Alliance strongly encourages New Zealand and the US to continue to strive towards a joint proposal at CCAMLR in late October, providing an opportunity for real conservation leadership by all participating countries now, while we have a window of opportunity to protect this incredible habitat.”

“Although the draft US-NZ proposal would have fallen short of what is necessary to protect the world’s least impacted marine ecosystem, it would have included important conservation gains and improved on New Zealand’s original proposal,” Keey said. “The failure of Cabinet to agree to back the US-NZ proposal is a slap in the face to the US – one of New Zealand’s key Antarctic allies in the region.”

“Cabinet has handed Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully an impossible mission to push a weak marine reserve proposal in the face of United States’ opposition,” according to Keey. “New Zealand needs to now consider how it will avoid a train wreck at negotiations on Antarctic marine protection at the CCAMLR meeting later this year.”


Iceberg in ocean, Antarctica.
© © Wim van Passel / WWF-Canon Enlarge

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