Ocean Elder Jose Maria Figueres released an Op-Ed, Russia is Vital to Protecting Antarctica’s Ross Sea, in today’s New York Times highlighting the critical role that Russia can play in creating a marine protected area in the Ross Sea. Russia is the current chair of the Commission on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) which will be meeting to discuss the Ross Sea. While CCAMLR has been negotiating the creation of a marine protected area in the Ross Sea for several years, it has been unable to reach the required consensus agreement.
The Ross Sea is one of the least impacted large marine ecosystems on Earth. Since its discovery in 1841 the Ross Sea has been the focus of extensive scientific research, with some data sets going back over 150 years. Despite its remote location, over 100 scientists visit the Ross Sea annually to study everything from seafloor life to ocean biogeochemistry.
In his Op-Ed, Mr. Figueres stressed that the “oceans are under stress across the globe. Climate change, overfishing, habitat destruction and pollution endanger not only marine animals but also food, jobs and communities.” Creation of marine protected areas are essential to addressing these human impacts.
Mr. Figueres commented that “Russia has the chance to usher in its Year of Ecology and make a bold demonstration of its commitment to global cooperation and conservation by protecting a region that a Russian discovered. Doing so would not only save fish, penguins, whales and seabirds, it would confirm the environmental aspirations of Russia and make the ocean a healthier, more resilient place.”
The full Op-Ed is available on the New York Times website.