Nations have historic challenge to save Antarctic waters

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The Antarctic Ocean Alliance is urging the UK government to protect one of the last true frontier areas before it is damaged irreparably by human interference. A huge swath of the waters off Antarctica must be protected from fishing and other industries, environmental groups have said.
When people hear the word “Antarctica,” they might think about penguins or towering icebergs. But the region is more than ice and birds that fly under water as they make up 10% of the world’s ocean and is home to almost 10,000 species. Now the Antarctic Ocean Alliance – an environment coalition has expressed deep concern for Antarctica waters and has said that more than 40% of the region needs to be given protection before one of the world’s last true frontier areas is damaged irreparably by human activity. The group, whose members include Greenpeace and World Wildlife Fund, has identified 19 “key Antarctic marine habitats” that it argues must be protected as part of the largest network of marine protected areas ever created. It is urging the UK government to throw its weight behind the proposals. The alliance says Antarctic marine ecosystems are under increasing pressure, including the rising demands of the fishing industry, which threaten the health of animal populations such as penguins, whales, seals, fish and krill. Not many know that below the icy ocean surface of Antarctic waters, bright-colored seastars, sponges and other bottom-dwelling creatures of all shapes and sizes blanket the seafloor. On the surface, penguins, flying seabirds, seals and whales abound amidst the ice, foraging in krill-rich waters. And so Antarctic truly remains one of the world’s last wild frontiers.
A 25 member countries is trying to work out a concrete process to save Antarctica waters. This historic agreement is the only hope to protect massive areas of the Southern Ocean before the fishing industry and other activities end up damaging the Antarctica waters beyond repair.


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