Marine Protected Areas in the Antarctic by zim17557


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                              Agenda Item:        ATCM 13,
                                                    CEP 7d
                              Presented by:          ASOC
                                  Original:           English

Marine Protected Areas in the Antarctic

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                          Marine Protected Areas in the Antarctic
Protection and management of the marine environment and resources through Marine Protected Areas and
Marine Reserves has long been recognised as desirable and valuable within the agreements and bodies that
make up the Antarctic Treaty System. The international community has also broadly recognised the need and
urgency to protect significant amounts of the world’s oceans to preserve resources and marine biodiversity.
This broader international recognition has resulted in positive progress towards the adoption of Marine
Protected Areas in the high seas and the designation of significant areas for spatial management in areas
under national jurisdiction.

The legal and procedural mechanisms required to designate Marine Protected Areas and Marine Reserves in
the Southern Ocean have long been established. To date the mandate of the Antarctic Treaty System to
establish Marine Protected Areas has not yet translated into substantial concrete action to protect the marine
environment of the Southern Ocean. However, much groundwork, including the proof of concept of
bioregionalisation and systematic conservation planning has been completed. On the 50th anniversary of the
signing of the Antarctic Treaty, it is up to Antarctic Treaty Parties to contribute to the global momentum that
is establishing Marine Protected Areas on the high seas by capitalizing on the progress made under the
Treaty System to date and taking advantage of important developments and learning from other international
bodies towards the establishment of significant Marine Protected Areas in the Southern Ocean.

1.      Introduction

The designation of networks of representative high seas Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and Marine
Reserves in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean could seem a long way off, or could appear just around the
corner. It all depends on one’s point of view, i.e. if we perceive our glass, or ocean if you will, as half full or
half empty. There is momentum in the international arena to protect ocean biodiversity and resources
through an ecosystem based approach to management that involves MPAs and Marine Reserves as important
tools to this end, a demonstration of a glass half full. With regard to Antarctica, that momentum has to date
not translated into the concrete action required to properly manage the full range of marine biodiversity
implying that our glass is half empty. If we do not act fast, indeed our oceans will be empty as well.

At the 50th Anniversary of the signing of the Antarctic Treaty, ATCPs have the opportunity to regain the
initiative and take important steps toward continuing the momentum that recent developments have
provided. By doing so, the ATCM can demonstrate leadership in protecting ocean biodiversity and in doing
so meet the commitments towards the preservation of Antarctica and the Southern Ocean enshrined within
the Antarctic Treaty and Madrid Protocol.1,2

2.      Recent Developments

In the past year, there have been a number of positive developments towards the establishment of MPAs in
areas beyond national jurisdiction. First, at COP 9 of the Convention for Biological Diversity (CBD),
agreement was reached on Decision IX/20, which sets out criteria and guidance for the designation of MPAs
in areas beyond national jurisdiction.3 Second, at its 2008 meeting, the Convention for the Conservation of
Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) reached a decision on 11 priority areas, based on broad scale
bioregionalisation, to progress work on the designation and implementation of MPAs on the high seas within
the CCAMLR area.4 Third, at their meeting in June 2008, the OSPAR Commission announced their

  Antarctic Treaty Article IX (f)
  Madrid Protocol, Annex’s II and V
  CCAMLR, Report of the Twenty-seventh meeting of the Commission (2008)
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agreement in principle to establish a 300,000 square km area of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and overlaying ocean
as an MPA.5

A. Progress under the CBD in the establishment of MPAs beyond national jurisdiction

Decision IX/20 of CBD COP9 is relevant to states and organizations including all ATCPs and non-
contracting parties, all coastal states (including the UNEP Regional Seas Organisations of which they are
members), the International Maritime Organisation (IMO - with respect to shipping), the International
Seabed Authority (ISA - with respect to seabed mining in areas beyond national jurisdiction), Regional
Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMOs, including states party to constituting agreements, with
interests in high seas fishing), and similarly competent organisations and arrangements such as CCAMLR.
All these states and organizations have taken some institutional and/or operational steps to establish and
manage MPAs.

Following on from this decision, the Canadian government, with financial support from the German
government, has offered to host a CBD Expert Workshop on Scientific and Technical Guidance on the use of
Biogeographic Classification Systems and Identification of Marine Areas beyond national jurisdiction in
need of protection. This workshop will assess progress in implementing the CBD COP9 decision and be held
from 29 September to 2 October 2009 in Ottawa, Canada. The workshop represents a target date for delivery
of preliminary background information on potential sites of ecological and biological significance in areas
beyond national jurisdiction. Also, it will support discussions that will feed into further CBD processes as
well as those established by other relevant competent international bodies (i.e. ATCM / CCAMLR, IMO,

The German government during its current CBD presidency has decided to further support this work both
financially and scientifically via a project administered by the IUCN to collate and analyse available
scientific information and work on site selection and designation of high seas MPAs. This project and the
Canadian workshop will evaluate progress and guide future work. Furthermore, the German State Secretary
of the Environment Ministry has generously agreed to a substantial financial commitment for relevant
projects in 2010.

ATCPs and Non-contracting parties should be encouraged to take advantage of the financial and institutional
opportunities provided by the recent CBD decision, the German government announcements and the
Canadian MPA workshop to present, discuss and progress work to designate and implement marine
protected areas in areas beyond national jurisdiction.

B. Application of CCAMLR’s Bioregionalisation

In November 2008 CCAMLR decided that “the development of a representative system of MPAs should
focus on, but not be limited to, the priority areas identified by WG-EMM6 in Figure 12 of SC-CAMLR-
XXVII, Annex 4. Therefore, Members were encouraged to use appropriate methodologies to further this
work.”7 This decision from the CCAMLR Commission is a clear call to action to Members, most of which
are also ATCPs, to progress the site selection and implementation of networks of representative MPAs in
Antarctica and the Southern Ocean without delay.

The competence and legal framework exist within the ATS to implement MPAs within the Antarctic Treaty
area as either Antarctic Specially Protected Areas (ASPAs) and Antarctic Specially Managed Areas
(ASMAs). It is clear from previous decisions at ATCMs that the agreed mechanism to designate MPAs
involves expert consultation with, and the approval or recommendation of CCAMLR8. Since CCAMLR has
made important progress towards site identification, ASOC encourages ATCPs to formally request that such
  WM-EMM – Working Group – Ecosystem Monitoring and Management
  Extracted from CCAMLR XXVII Commission Report,Para 7.2 (vi)
 Decision 4 (1998) Marine Protected Areas, ATCM XXI and Decision 9 (2004) – Marine Protected Areas and Other
Areas of Interest to CCAMLR, ATCM XXVII

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work continues to be prioritised by the SC-CAMLR and that recommendations on site selection for ASPA
and ASMA designation from within but not limited to the 11 priority areas are provided to the CEP from SC-
CAMLR at the first available opportunity. Further, ATCPs are urged to undertake work from within but not
limited to the 11 priority areas agreed at CCAMLR XXVII to progress MPA site selection building on the
progress at CCAMLR.
C. OSPAR – Setting an Important Precedent

The OSPAR Commission has furthered progress on its ground breaking decision made at its meeting in June
2008 that proposes to designate a section of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge including the Charlie Gibbs Fracture
Zone (CGFZ) as a potential OSPAR MPA. Since then, OSPAR has taken decisive steps including an
exchange of information with other competent authorities, i.e. the International Seabed Authority, the
International Maritime Organisation and the North-East Atlantic Fisheries Commission. Further, one of the
first significant achievements since June 2008 has been the preparation of conservation objectives by the
OSPAR Working Group on Marine Protected Areas, Species and Habitats (MASH) in October 2008. These
objectives have been included in the pro forma nomination document that has now been circulated to
relevant competent authorities. At the same time, a Group of Jurists/Linguists who met from 16 to 17
October 2008, have been drafting advice concerning the mandate of OSPAR to establish MPAs in areas
beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJ).9

D. MPAs of Size and Substance

There are further important developments that involve the protection of marine biodiversity through the use
of MPAs that also reflect the scale of the OSPAR developments. These great strides have been taken by
individual states in designating MPAs in waters under their own jurisdiction.

In 2007, the US designated the waters around the Leeward Hawaiian Islands as a National Monument, the
so-called Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument (MNM). At the time, this was the largest MPA in
existence. Then, on January 30, 2008, Kiribati adopted formal regulations for the Phoenix Islands Protected
Area doubling the original size up to 410,500 km2 making it at the time the largest marine protected
contiguous area on Earth.10 More recently, on January 6, 2009, former US President Bush formally
designated three areas in the Pacific Ocean as Marine National Monuments. Scientific and technical advice
provided by the President’s Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) will result in the creation of a system
that when combining the three areas will represent the world’s largest ocean protected area - covering
505,800 square kilometres. The three new MNMs include two regions of the Line Islands that span the
central Pacific, the Pacific Remote Islands MNM comprised of 5 separate and widely spaced areas and the
Rose Atoll MNM, and an area in the western Pacific, which encompasses the northern Marianas chain and
the Mariana Trench – the deepest ocean canyon in the world.11 These MNMs are to be managed as IUCN
Category 1 (highly protected) status. Finally, the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council announced in
February 2009 that, due to concerns about the unknowns of climate change, there will be no commercial
fishing allowed in 514 486 km2 of U.S. Arctic territorial waters, until much more understanding of biotic
effects of climate change to the Arctic Ocean is obtained.12

While the areas covered by these MPAs are not in areas beyond national jurisdiction, their creation
demonstrates to the international community the ability and wisdom to designate and manage suitably large
areas of the ocean as MPAs addressing a scale that is appropriate for the movement patterns and spatial
needs of many marine organisms and populations. Further, the example of the North Pacific Fisheries
Management Council towards management of Arctic fisheries in the face of climate change demonstrates
that designating MPAs of ecologically significant size will also be crucial towards understanding the effects
of climate change on fisheries and building resilience and adaptation capability into Southern Ocean
ecosystems in order that they can better withstand the stresses that will be imposed from ongoing climate
change in addition to current exploitative practices.

  OSPAR Newsletter
10 (21.4.08).
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Of the MPAs that have been designated globally, very few are located in southern temperate and polar
latitudes. In spite of this, it has been suggested that based on larval dispersal distances, MPA size should
increase with an increase in latitude.13 Unfortunately, this has not been the trend in the designation of MPAs
within the Treaty Area. Currently, only 0.2% of Antarctic waters are identified as protected areas. Although
under the jurisdiction of the ATS and CCAMLR, the other 99.8% remains without adequate protection. Yet
there is no need for this lack of protection, especially in the context of the Antarctic Treaty, the Madrid
Protocol and the CCAMLR convention.

3.      Case for Moving Forward

Progress towards the protection of ocean biodiversity is happening. However, this progress is not occurring
at the pace needed to ensure that oceanic biodiversity at a global level is preserved, especially, in the face of
current threats such as overfishing, increased shipping, chemical pollution and climate change. It is also not
happening at the pace required to meet targets agreed by several international bodies,14 to which most
ATCPs are party. The international bodies under which countries have committed to resolve or address
problems related to threats to ocean biodiversity through the designation of MPAs and Marine Reserves
include the following:

•        World Summit for Sustainable Development (WSSD): in 2002, world leaders at agreed to create
     representative Marine Protected Area (MPA) networks by 2012.
•       5th World Parks Congress (WPC): in 2003, the WSSD agreement was endorsed.
•      7th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD): in 2004, the
     WSSD agreement was also endorsed.

However, since these commitments were made, there has been a distinct disconnect between the desired
outcomes and actions needed to make those outcomes a reality within the Antarctic context. At the business
end, effective action to conduct the necessary supporting background work such as bioregionalisation has
been slow. Some progress has been made towards gathering the required information, developing and
agreeing on appropriate techniques for site selection and analysing scientific data to make recommendations
towards site selection, but in general this progress has also been slow.

The legal framework towards designation of high seas MPAs in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean are well
known, have precedence, but are still underused. The commitment towards the designation of spatial
protection is clearly defined both within the Madrid Protocol15 and the CCAMLR Convention.16 The
competence and relationship of the ATCM and CCAMLR have been affirmed twice by Decision 4 (1998) –
Marine Protected Areas, and Decision 9 (2005) – Marine Protected Areas and Other Areas of Interest to
CCAMLR, respectively. It follows that procedurally, there is nothing now standing in the way for the
implementation of MPAs in the Southern Ocean other than for proposals of ASPAs and ASMAs to be put
forward. Whether a proposal is put forward first at CCAMLR or the ATCM (CEP) does not matter.17

Each body will provide input to the proposal based on their respective areas of competence. The CEP can
and should progress on site selection where non-fishing related threats to the marine environment in the
Antarctic Treaty Area are to be addressed. At the same time, CCAMLR’s process on site selection involving
bioregionalisation and systematic conservation planning should be fast-tracked and can inform steps taken by
ATCPs within the CEP context towards site selection proposals. Any proposal that is put forward involving a
marine area that meets the criteria of Decision 9 (2005) will be considered by the SC-CAMLR, providing

   Laurel, B.J. and J.R. Bradury. (2006) ‘Big’ concerns with high latitude marine protected areas (MPAs): trends in
connectivity and MPA size. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, 63, 2603-2607.
   Louisa J. Wood, Lucy Fish, Josh Laughren and Daniel Pauly (2008). Assessing progress towards global marine
protection targets:shortfalls in information and action. Oryx, 42, pp 340-351
   Madrid Protocol Annex V
   CCAMLR, Article IX.2(g)
   Madrid Protocol, Annex V Article 5 (1)
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recommendations and approval to the CEP. CCAMLR should consider the advice of the CEP, as required,
with regard to non-fishing related threats to the marine environment in the proposed area. The CEP would
then be able to designate an appropriate network of ASPAs and ASMAs that meets the needs of preserving
marine biodiversity within the Treaty Area. In this way MPA networks addressing a range of threats to
marine biodiversity and uses can be progressed and adopted in a timely fashion. Now that CCAMLR has
prioritised areas of high heterogeneity for MPA site selection, there is nothing to stop ATCPs making
proposals for MPA site selection or making formal requests to CCAMLR. Nor is there anything standing in
the way of CCAMLR making recommendations to the CEP on the designation of MPAs.

Human pressures on the marine environment within the Antarctic Treaty Area have continued to increase
without the required steps to set aside significant areas for protection. As a result, the Antarctic environment
is in danger of no longer retaining its nature and reputation as a relatively pristine environment. Increasing
shipping traffic from tourism, scientific study and fishing activity are raising the risk of marine pollution.
Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing18 and potential unsustainable expansion of commercial fishing
activities threaten the Antarctic food web at both the top and bottom trophic levels. Climate change effects,
such as changes to the extent of sea ice, rising ocean temperature and ocean acidification will exacerbate
these problems with the potential for additional unknown effects. In addition, new threats to the conservation
of ocean biodiversity keep arising including biological prospecting and the undertaking of climate change
mitigation experiments or geo-engineering. For example, large-scale oceanic fertilisation projects involve
dumping tonnes of iron or other nutrients into the oceanic environment. These experiments being conducted
in the Southern Ocean have questionable efficacy and unknown short and long-term effects. Precautionary
actions are required to build the appropriate Antarctic and Southern Ocean ecosystem’s resilience in the face
of these threats. MPAs represent one of the strongest tools towards that end.

A. What Should Happen Next

ATCPs have the opportunity to take advantage of the developments of the past year to significantly advance
the designation and implementation of MPAs within the Treaty Area. The urgency with which ATCPs need
to act should be clear. Climate change is beginning to demonstrably affect the Antarctic environment.
Challenges to the preservation of marine biodiversity continue to come from other forms of human activities.
In the face of these threats and the goals that they have set themselves within the context of the ATS, the
Madrid Protocol, and other international bodies, ATCPs are in danger of not delivering the needed protection
of the Antarctic marine environment within the agreed timeframes.

To remedy this situation, the ATCPs can take advantage of the clear information and direction contained
within Decision IX/20 from the CBD’s COP9 to inform their efforts to progress work to designate MPAs in
areas beyond national jurisdiction. Second, they can take advantage of the financial and institutional support
available via the CBD process to assist in progressing work on designating and implementing high seas
MPAs. Third, the prioritisation of the areas of high heterogeneity within the Southern Ocean by CCAMLR
for the designation of high seas MPAs provides a focus for funding and projects that ATCPs may undertake
towards preserving marine biodiversity through the implementation of high seas MPAs.

4.      Conclusion

ATCPs have the opportunity at the 50th Anniversary of the signing of the Antarctic Treaty to demonstrate the
continued leadership in international governance that has been the hallmark of the ATS. ASOC calls upon
ATCPs to do so, by seizing the momentum and opportunities that currently exist to meet internationally
agreed goals to protect marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction by taking the following
steps. A clear decision from the XXXII ATCM that sets an appropriate timescale to designate
comprehensive, adequate and representative networks of MPAs and Marine Reserves across the Southern
Ocean by 2012 would establish a benchmark for high seas protection. This would be a fitting way to
celebrate the closing of the just completed International Polar Year and the Antarctic Treaty System entering

 Lack, M. (2008). Continuing CCAMLR’s Fight against IUU Fishing for Toothfish. WWF Australia and
TRAFFIC International
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its second 50 years, and a reaffirmation of the commitment to dedicate Antarctica as a natural reserve
devoted to peace and science.

ASOC recommends that:

    1) Pursuant to the separate competencies of the ATCM and CCAMLR to designate protected areas an
       agreement is reached at the CEP / SC-CAMLR workshop prior to the XXXII ATCM to reaffirm
       Decision 9 (2005) and specifically outline the process and timelines under which CEP and SC-
       CAMLR will work cooperatively where necessary in recognition of each body’s competency and
       expertise towards the site selection and designation of MPAs in the Southern Ocean.

    2) The ATCPs, regardless of whether they are members of CCAMLR, should act on the direction
       provided to CCAMLR members by the CCAMLR XXVII Report to fund and undertake work using
       appropriate methodologies to further the site selection and designation of MPAs within the Southern

    3) The CEP makes a formal request to CCAMLR to progress work towards the designation of networks
       of representative MPAs, including site selection within but not limited to the 11 priority areas
       identified for MPA designation at CCAMLR XXVII. The SC-CAMLR should consider the advice of
       the CEP, as required, on issues concerning non-fishing related threats to the marine environment in
       any proposed area. Based on this, CCAMLR should provide prompt advice to the CEP / ATCM on
       the designation of ASPAs and ASMAs to create these networks.

    4) The CEP and ATCM should recognise the value of CBD Decision IX/20 of COP9 on scientific
       criteria for the identification of ecologically and biologically significant areas beyond national
       jurisdiction and guidance for the development of representative MPA networks to inform and
       support the existing process under the Antarctic Treaty System for the establishment of MPAs.
       Accordingly, the CEP and ATCM should recommend to CCAMLR that these criteria and guidance
       can inform site selection of MPAs within but not limited to the 11 priority areas agreed at CCAMLR

    5) The ATCPs should commit to achieving comprehensive, adequate and representative networks of
       MPAs and Marine Reserves across the Southern Ocean by 2012.


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