Towards Creation of a CCAMLR Network of Marine Protected Areas in the Southern Ocean

Following recommendations from the 2002 United Nations World Summit, and recognizing the value of marine protected areas (MPAs), the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) was the first international body to commit to creating an MPA network. The commitment was based on CCAMLR’s mission to protect the life in its waters, as well as implementing the precautionary principle. In 2011, CCAMLR members agreed by consensus to a framework for creating a network of MPAs by adopting Conservation Measure 91-04 and also identifying nine planning domains, which represent areas in which to plan and report on MPAs.With the establishment of the Ross Sea Region MPA in 2016, CCAMLR has taken the first step needed to create a network of MPAs, which would preserve connectivity and provide resilience for the many unique ecosystems of the Southern Ocean. The next steps towards creating this network include designating the proposed Weddell Sea and East Antarctic MPAs, as well as the forthcoming proposal for an MPA off the Western Antarctic Peninsula. It is anticipated that CCAMLR members will develop additional MPA proposals to create a truly circumpolar network of protection in the Southern Ocean. In this series of five articles, we provide an update on the status of the CCAMLR MPA network and the proposed MPAs in their various stages.

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