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Russia, China and Ukraine blamed for blocking plan to protect Antarctic Ocean

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
November 2nd, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Meetings in Australia to draw up a plan to protect the Antarctic Ocean, along with its marine life have proved to be unsuccessful. Leaders have failed to come up with a consensus plan to address this international, environmental issue, deferring a decision until July 2013 when all the relevant science will be considered.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Environmental groups have blamed Russia, China and Ukraine for blocking agreement. Meeting for the past two weeks, the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) has been meeting on the island of Tasmania.

Comprised of representatives from 24 governments and the European Union, the commission has been considering proposals for the establishment of marine reserves in two critical areas of the Southern Ocean.

Large swaths of Antarctica have recently come under pressure to meet the growing global demand for sea food. Antarctica's rich resources are increasingly targeted.

Climate change, coupled with increased acidification of the waters is also likely to affect the food sources and habitats of many species in the region including penguins, seals and whales.

Meetings in the United States and New Zealand both put forward competing plans to create a marine protected area of 1.6 million square kilometers in the Ross Sea.

Another proposal would have created a reserve zone around East Antarctica. At around 1.9 million square kilometers, it would have covered an area almost three times the size of France.

Celebrity endorsements have included Hollywood star Leonardo Di Caprio, who wrote in an email that whales and penguins can't speak for themselves and that there should be a "massive wave of public pressure" to drive forward the plans for restrictions.

Many have expressed their disappointment with the failure to reach an agreement.

"There are competing interests, in terms of commercial interests and in terms of the economic control of these areas, we floundered essentially at the end of the talks," Steve Campbell of the AOA told reporters.

Campbell did praise the constructive contributions of a number of countries including the United States, Australia and the U.K. But with consensus of all 25 members needed for progress, some countries refused to compromise on the proposals.

"At the end of the day it seems that countries like Russia, Ukraine and China couldn't really make it work - and we're hoping that at the next meeting they'll come with a stronger commitment to the conservation objectives of the commission."

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