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Antarctic Commission argues over the world's largest protection zone - Russia and China block German initiative


The German government wants to enforce a 2.8 million square kilometer protected area in the Antarctic Ocean in the Antarctic Commission. But Russia and China are at odds.

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A Weddell seal and Antarctic explorer (archive image)

Photo: Yonhap / dpa

As a diplomat you often have to be patient.

Sometimes you have to repeat a proposal over and over so that it may eventually be accepted.

This is also the case with an application drawn up by German experts that the European Union submitted to the Antarctic Commission CCAMLR in 2016 - so far without success.

The Commission goes back to the "Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources" and consists of 25 Member States and the EU.

And, this is important, the decisions are made unanimously - or not at all.

This year's meeting of the commission started on Tuesday as a virtual meeting, and the German government wants to work to establish what is still the world's largest marine reserve in the species-rich Weddell Sea.

Once again.

"A marine reserve in the Weddell Sea helps to protect this untouched and ecologically valuable area from negative human influences in the future and to preserve its animal and plant species," said a spokesman for the Federal Environment Ministry.

The Bundestag recently voted unanimously in favor of the plans to protect the 2.8 million square kilometer area.

"The hope for a positive surprise lives on"

The project has been wrestled over for years and is being blocked by China and Russia.

"Since decisions in the commission are based on unanimity, so far - most recently at the CCAMLR annual meeting in November 2019 - it has unfortunately not been possible to pass a resolution," said the spokesman for the Ministry of the Environment.

Geopolitical and economic interests played a role - especially in terms of fisheries and raw materials.

Both countries are currently speaking out against all other marine protected areas in the Antarctic.

However, the Commission has already designated such protection zones in the past, for example in the Ross Sea.

In addition to the plan for the Weddell Sea, other ideas are now on the table for protected areas off the East Antarctic and the Antarctic Peninsula.

In total, it is about four million square kilometers.

"From our point of view, it is very unlikely that Russia and China will give up their respective resistance in the context of the CCAMLR meeting," said WWF marine protection expert Tim Packeiser.

In the case of fishing activities in the Southern Ocean, at least Russia will probably not agree to possible sanctions for offenses.

"But the hope of a positive surprise lives on."

Former US Secretary of the Environment, John Kerry, took a special look at the attitude of the Chinese government.

In a guest article in the "New York Times" he urged Beijing not to close itself off to the new protected areas: "China has full power to make this achievement a reality."

It is about success for future generations.

Icon: The mirror

chs / dpa

Source: spiegel

All tech articles on 2020-10-27

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