Sunday, November 6, 2011

Hearts In The Right Place, But...

A new international coalition wants to set up a network of designated marine protected areas (or MPAs) and no-take marine reserves, in the oceans surrounding Antarctica.
The Antarctic Ocean Alliance (AOA) is a coalition of environmental groups and philanthropists including Greenpeace, the Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition, Forest and Bird, Natural Resources Defence Council and other groups worldwide.
It has set a time frame for a system of MPAs by 2012. This network would protect key Antarctic habitats and wildlife from human interference. Sizewise it would be greater than anything achieved before: the areas recommended for protection include the Weddell Sea, Antarctic Peninsula and Ross Sea. Key countries fishing there are Russia, Norway, Korea, Japan, NZ, UK and Spain.
AOA says global fishing stocks are depleting due to overfishing, and these resulting shortages are straining the marine resources of the Southern Ocean: "As fisheries resources around the world come under more pressure, more distant nations will want to go to Antarctica to extract protein, and they will do it either legally or illegally."
The MPAs would protect 10,000 species including emperor penguins, minke and killer whales, seals, krill and colossal squid. AOA wants most of the area to be placed into no-take reserves that ban all activity except for scientific research.
Ahhh...but then we return to the same ol' hoary loophole exploited by Japan's commercial whaling, which the nasty Nippons claim is just "research". For this new network to be effective, "research" must be accurately and legally determined so that NO country can find a loophole to abuse.
This sounds a wondrous and lofty idealistic plan, and I wish it total success...but if it IS abused (as we all know it will be), does this coalition have any teeth?
What would be the penalties? Who will impose them? And how?

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