The idea of creating extensive marine reserves in the Southern Ocean, around Antarctica, seems like a no-brainer.
The reserves would protect what is still the most pristine aquatic ecosystem in existence, and they would extend to the ocean some of the international protection that the continent enjoys: the recognition that the south polar region is a world treasure, off limits to the frenzy of resource extraction playing out across the rest of the planet.
In July, at the most recent meeting of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resourcesin Bremerhaven, Germany, there was a nearly giddy sense of optimism that, after repeated failures, the proposal would finally pass. But it failed again, thanks largely to Russia and Ukraine, who raised unfounded legal objections. And while not completely caving in, fishing nations like China, Norway and Japan called for smaller reserves and a “sunset clause” that would allow for future exploitation and essentially render the whole idea of a permanent reserve meaningless.
All this has led the staunchest supporters of the original 875,000-square-mile proposal — chiefly the United States and New Zealand — to do exactly the wrong thing. Instead of going into the next month’s meeting in Hobart, Australia, with renewed determination, the two countries announced last week that they would agree to shrink the proposed reserves by 40 percent, in the belief that something is better than nothing.
The Latest on: Antarctica
- Melting ice in Antarctica reveals new uncharted islandon February 28, 2020 at 10:32 am
Related: Scientists in Antarctica are racing to figure out why this giant glacier is melting so fast The researchers tentatively named the uncharted outcropping Sif Island, after a Norse goddess ...
- A New Island Has Been Discovered In Antarctica Thanks To Melting Glacierson February 28, 2020 at 9:34 am
While cruising around the western coast of Antarctica, polar researchers stumbled across a never-before-seen island that’s recently been revealed to the world by a retreating glacier. The island has ...
- Explained: Why is snow in Antarctica turning blood-red, why it is bad newson February 28, 2020 at 3:35 am
Over the past few weeks, snow around Ukraine's Vernadsky Research Base, located off the coast of Antarctica's northernmost peninsula, has started to take on a red tinge, courtesy of an algae that ...
- Last Week Antarctica Reached The Hottest Temperature Ever Recorded And Now The Glaciers Are Meltingon February 26, 2020 at 5:45 pm
From February 5 through February 13, temperatures in Antarctica were about the same as in Los Angeles, 65 degrees, the hottest ever recorded.
- Strange Images of 'Blood Snow' in Antarctica Shared by Scientists Working at Research Stationon February 26, 2020 at 9:51 am
Ukrainian scientists at a research station in the Antarctic have shared images of a strange phenomenon affecting the area around their base—blood red snow. The scientists say the red snow that has ...
- Coronavirus: Coronavirus has now spread to every continent except Antarcticaon February 26, 2020 at 9:12 am
Public health officials warned Wednesday that the spread of the novel coronavirus is inching closer toward meeting the definition of a global pandemic, as the number of cases outside mainland China ...
- Coronavirus cases reported on every continent except Antarcticaon February 26, 2020 at 9:10 am
The coronavirus outbreak has now spread to six of the globe’s seven continents.
- Brazil confirms Latin America’s 1st coronavirus case, virus now in every continent besides Antarcticaon February 26, 2020 at 7:07 am
The deadly coronavirus that was completely unknown to the world just three months ago has now reached every continent besides Antarctica. Brazilian authorities on Wednesday confirmed Latin America’s ...
- The coronavirus has now hit every continent except Antarctica after a man in Brazil tested positiveon February 26, 2020 at 2:52 am
In Asia, South Korea and China have recorded dozens of deaths. Europe, especially Italy, is now experiencing the same fate.
- Tourism in Antarctica: Edging Toward the (Risky) Mainstreamon February 26, 2020 at 2:16 am
Travel to one of the most remote parts of the planet is booming. What does that mean for the environment and visitor safety?
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