Oceanwide Expeditions Supports Marine Protected Areas in Antarctica

By ,   December 19, 2016 ,   Cruise Industry

Oceanwide Expeditions (small cruise line) salutes the adoption of Ross Sea region marine protected area soon adopted by CCAMLR (Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources) and strongly supports more regions of protection.

Oceanwide Expeditions organizes a couple of Ross Sea voyages between January-March 2017 with the ice-strengthened mv Ortelius, including helicopter transfers.

As a founding member of the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO), Oceanwide Expeditions advocates and promotes the practice of safe and environmentally responsible private-sector travel to Antarctica.

To further our environmental goals, Oceanwide Expeditions supports marine protected areas (MPAs) in the Southern Ocean surrounding Antarctica and elsewhere, a process than has been in place for several years. MPAs contribute to protect unique and representative habitats and ecosystems, serve as reference areas for science including climate change science, contribute to building resilience in the face of global climate change, and help ensure the sustainability of fisheries.

In 2009, the Commission committed to designating a network of large-scale marine protected areas in Antarctic waters. After initial progress, discussions to create two large MPAs in the Ross Sea and in East Antarctica had been in virtual gridlock since 2012. This changed dramatically in October 2016, when the Ross Sea region marine protected area was unanimously adopted. This protected the first of nine planning domains with an area of over 1.5 million square kilometers — the largest MPA in the world to date.

This is only the beginning, as other MPA proposals for the Southern Ocean are in various stages of development. In September 2016, at the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s World Conservation Congress, a resolution passed encouraging an increase in the percentage of marine areas in MPAs to at least 30% by 2030.

As one of the responsible users of the Southern Ocean, Oceanwide Expeditions looks forward to the enforcement of the Ross Sea region marine protected area in 2017 and the adoption of further MPAs. We encourage CCAMLR member governments to continue the process of establishing a network of permanent protected areas. Furthermore, we encourage other Antarctica Tour Operators members to support a complete ring of MPAs around Antarctica.