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Antarctic Ocean Commission fails again to agree action plan on ocean protection

Santiago, Chile  – WEBWIRE

 The Antarctic Ocean Commission has once again failed to find a path forwards to protect the Antarctic’s waters. The Commission met this week for a special intersessional meeting, only the third in the Commission’s 41 year history, in an attempt to break the deadlock on delivering Antarctic ocean sanctuaries. 

The Commission has promised to create a network of ocean sanctuaries in the Antarctic, but attempts have been repeatedly blocked by a small number of members because of the Commission’s reliance on consensus-based decision making. This allows a single member state to block all progress.

Chris Thorne, Greenpeace’s Protect the Oceans campaign said: “Antarctic Ocean Commission members had a chance this week to finally make progress towards protecting the Antarctic, and make a major contribution towards protecting 30% of the oceans by 2030. They failed to reach consensus once again.

“The Commission’s system of consensus decision making is fundamentally broken. But decisions under the Global Ocean Treaty, which was adopted this week at the United Nations, allows voting on decisions. This gives us hope, but something must change for the Commission to fulfil its responsibility of protecting the Antarctic’s oceans.

“With less than seven years until 2030, the time window left for us to act is shrinking. The Global Ocean Treaty will enable the creation of ocean sanctuaries on the high seas and shows that ocean protection is possible. We all rely on healthy oceans. Governments must ratify the Treaty by the UN Ocean Conference in 2025 and protect at least 30% of the oceans by 2030.”

The meeting failed to agree on a roadmap to progress Antarctic ocean sanctuaries, the original objective of this meeting. Due to two members’ lack of willingness to compromise,, the Commission could not even commit to eventually establish a network of marine protected areas. 

Greenpeace calls for urgent actions including high level political engagement to break the longstanding deadlock in the Antarctic Ocean Commission on ocean sanctuaries. Governments must also urgently ratify the Global Ocean Treaty by the UN Ocean Conference in 2025. 


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