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Independent Global Leaders Urge Russian President Putin To Rescue Antarctic Marine Reserve Negotiations

CCAMLR leaders call out Russia; James Cameron Petitions Russian President Putin

BREMERHAVEN, Germany, July 15, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Russia today challenged the legal basis that would allow for the creation of large-scale marine reserves in Antarctica. Negotiations are currently under way here at a special meeting of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources, or CCAMLR, to discuss the adoption of marine reserves in the Ross Sea and Eastern Antarctica totalling more than three million square kilometres.

"One wonders if Russia's efforts are a stalling tactic designed to bring negotiations to a halt," says Andrea Kavanagh of The Pew Charitable Trusts, attending CCAMLR meeting. "At the very least this move jeopardizes international cooperation and goodwill, two key ingredients needed for global marine conservation. We urge world leaders to appeal to Russia to work with other countries to responsibly govern the oceans we all share."

Russia is a founding member of the international Commission for the Conservation of Marine Antarctic Living Resources, which manages marine resources in the Southern Ocean and is comprised of 24 countries and the European Union.

The legal basis for CCAMLR's competence to establish large scale MPAs is clear and comes from several places:

  • The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS);
  • CCAMLR's 2011 adoption of conservation measure 91.04 (which was agreed to by Russia);
  • The Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources, entered into force on 7 April 1982 with a goal to preserve the marine life and environmental integrity in and near Antarctica. It also gives CCAMLR the authority to establish marine reserves.
  • CCAMLR's 2012 designation of an MPA around the South Orkney Islands which was also agreed to by consensus (including Russia).

In an open letter earlier, James Cameron, Sir Richard Branson, Jean-Michel Cousteau, Dr. Sylvia Earle, and Capt. Don Walsh wrote to President Vladimir Putin to support Antarctic marine reserve designations. 

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