Sunday, 2 November 2014

Russia accused of blocking creation of vast Antarctic marine reserves

Diplomatic tensions over Ukraine blamed by negotiators for fourth failed attempt to create world’s biggest marine protected areas

The Guardian, Friday 31 October 2014 14.04 GMT

Russia has been accused of blocking the creation of the world’s largest marine protected areas (MPAs) in the Southern Ocean, with frustrated negotiators blaming diplomatic tensions over the war in Ukraine and the downing of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17.

Delegates to the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) meeting in Hobart said Russia’s obstructionist position on conservation in the Antarctic took a sharp negative turn at this year’s conference. “Everything was nyet,” said one negotiator.

The commission has now failed to come to an agreement on protecting more than 2.5 million sq km of sea off the coast of Antarctica four times in three years. The proposals are based on scientific advice that the protection of Antarctic marine ecosystems from overfishing is a key step in preserving the flagging health of the world’s oceans.

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