Phillip Mladanov’s post at the Oxford University Press blog looks at the lost opportunity for sustainable ocean management due to the blockage of two of the world’s largest marine protected areas at a special meeting of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) in Bremerhaven:
It is sobering to compare the efforts we put into protection of terrestrial environments compared to marine environments. We take national and regional parks and protected areas on land for granted as a prudent requirement for preservation of significant and representative areas of terrestrial wildlife and landscape in the face of growing human pressures. At this time about 12% of the planet’s land area is now under some form of protection. The corresponding figure for the oceans is well less than 1%, with most of this area still open to some form of exploitation. The area of the oceans where human exploitation is completely restricted is miniscule, consisting of a small number of scattered “no-take” marine reserves. How much of the Global Ocean do we need to protect in order to allow sufficient over-exploited marine systems to recover and contribute to a more sustainable marine harvest? The consensus among marine scientists is that somewhere in the vicinity of 20%-40% of the oceans need to be protected to maximise the amount of food we can harvest from the oceans. This means we would need roughly 50 times the area presently under protection. The actions of Russia were thus very unfortunate and well out of step with what is required to begin to manage our oceans sustainably. No one is really sure why the Russian delegation acted to block this important initiative but it can be speculated that their mandate was to protect Russian fishing interests in the Southern Ocean. A concerted effort is now required to ensure that Russia will have a change of heart when the proposal for protection of parts of the Southern Ocean is considered again at the next meeting of CCAMLR in Hobart in November.