The Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) is studying the creation of large-scale marine protected areas along the southernmost continent of the planet, its executive secretary, David Agnew, said Tuesday.
"In Antarctica, we are now debating the creation of large-scale marine protected areas to protect them from climatic changes and ensure that ecosystems in the Antarctic are preserved in a sustainable manner," said the head in an interview with Efe at the headquarters of the Ecuadorian Foreign Ministry in Quito
Visiting the Andean country, which aspires to integrate the Commission soon, Agnew tried to resolve the criticisms directed against the CCAMLR for having failed last year - the seventh consecutive year - to adopt a broad resolution to protect the southern ocean and not have reached a consensus in relation to protected areas, climate change or fishing transshipment.
The head of the international organization that brings together 24 countries and the European Union, recalled that "throughout the history of the CCAMLR we have constantly faced the challenge of consensus", alluding to the fact that resolutions must be adopted unanimously.
And also that the first maritime protected area created by the Commission, in the Ross Sea, in the Antarctic Ocean, and considered the largest reserve in the world with about 2 million square kilometers, required six years of deliberations.
Among the projects that have not yet been approved by the organization are the creation of a protected area in the Weddell Sea, proposed by Germany and with the support of the EU, which would cover 1.8 million square kilometers free of industrial fishing vessels and other threats.
In this regard, Agnew acknowledged that this sea and the Antarctic Peninsula are the two most important areas under magnifying glass at the moment, and that researchers have been analyzing for four years, but he was cautious when forecasting an upcoming agreement.
"My vision is that you cannot expect this to happen immediately, but I hope it arrives soon, under my mandate," which expires in 2022.
The CCAMLR was born in 1982 in an international convention that ordered it to protect the marine fauna and flora of Antarctica.
Despite the observations of numerous NGOs, including Greenpeace, which accuse the multilateral agency of not fulfilling its commitments, its executive secretary mentions that organizations "know that we have always developed high-level protocols for catches and that our requirements for fishing they are very high. "
He pointed out as an example that in each vessel that operates in the area under the protection of the Commission there is an obligation for an observer to travel, which is not the case in other fishery bodies.
However, despite the criticism of "not advancing rapidly" in its commitments, he appreciated that during the 38 years that the agency has been promoting fishing practice in a sustainable way.
It also reduced weight to another aspect that has been a cause of discontent and is the lack of a resolution that improves fishing transhipment in order to prevent illegal or unsupervised catches, according to an initiative proposed by the United States.
"I also hope that from the point of view of good transhipment management a regulation will be adopted soon, but we do not believe that there is much illegal fishing" in the Antarctic waters, he said.
According to the high charge, the fact that there are observers of the entity on each ship prevents illegal practices.
The Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Resources is an international agreement concluded in the Australian capital, Canberra, in 1980, which entered into force in 1982 as part of the Antarctic Treaty System.
It is responsible for regulating the fishing of the Southern Ocean species, especially black hake, better known as deep-sea cod, crab and krill.
The total catch of cod in the Antarctic is currently around 15,000 tons, while that of krill is 350,000 tons, Agnew said.
On the last species, fundamental of the trophic chain of ocean ecosystems, he stressed its "great potential", while warning that its capture must be "well managed and conserved" in order not to damage the Antarctic ecosystem since practically All animals depend on krill as sustenance.
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