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WWF launches marine protection campaign in the Southern Ocean


Southern Ocean, Antarctica – With the official launch of the International Polar Year today, WWF is looking to stop unsustainable fishing, marine pollution and climate change in the Southern Ocean.

In particular, the global conservation organization wants to create a network of marine protected areas in the southern waters by 2012, including the Ross Sea near Antarctica.

The Ross Sea is a physically and ecologically unique part of the Southern Ocean and home to many species including the colossal squid, the world’s largest invertebrate.

“An ecologically coherent network of protected areas in the Southern Ocean will protect habitats and wildlife,” said Constance Johnson, Director of WWF’s Antarctic and Southern Oceans Programme.

“It will increase the ocean’s resilience to climate change by lowering stress on the system, and enhance fisheries management by protecting spawning and nursery areas and providing refuges for exploited species.”

According to scientists, parts of the Antarctic Peninsula are among the fastest-warming regions on the planet. The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change recently warned that sea ice would shrink in both poles by the end of the century.

“The climate of the Ross Sea is changing, although not necessarily in the same manner as areas like the West Antarctic Peninsula,” added Johnson.

“The potential impact of these changes is poorly known, but should the trend continue, significant changes to the ecology of the Ross Sea can be expected.”

Following two recent shipping incidents in Antarctic waters, one of which resulted in an oil spill in the pristine waters off Deception Island, WWF will lobby for better protection of the Southern Ocean at the next Antarctic Treaty Consultative meeting, to be held from 30 April 30 to 11 May 2007 in New Delhi, India.

“If we want the biodiversity of the Antarctic continent and Southern Ocean to survive increasing levels of exploitation and the impacts of climate change, action must be taken during this International Polar Year,” Johnson said.


• The International Polar Year (IPY) is a worldwide scientific programme focused on the Arctic and the Antarctic. It involves over 200 projects, with thousands of scientists from over 60 nations examining a wide range of physical, biological and social research topics. Many of the projects will give top priority to the study of climate change. The IPY programme is organized by the International Council for Science and the World Meteorological Organization and will run from March 2007 through March 2009.

• Previous IPYs (1882–83, 1932–33 and 1957–58), which are also known as the International Geophysical Year, each produced major increases in the understanding of the Earth’s system.

• The Antarctic Treaty was signed in Washington on 1 December 1959 by the 12 countries whose scientists had been active in and around Antarctica during the third IPY (1957–58). The treaty came into effect on 23 June 1961 and now has 46 parties in total: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Belarus, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Cuba, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Hungary, India, Italy, Japan, Korea DPRK, Korea ROK, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United States, United Kingdom, Uruguay and Venezuela.


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