Australia announces projects for marine areas

The proposals for a marine protected area (MPA) in East Antarctica and the Weddell Sea are now being considered by CCAMLR. Australia is a co-proponent of both of these proposals. Australia, European Union and its Member States including India, New Zealand, Norway, Republic of Korea, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States of America, as well as Uruguay are the countries that have come together to support both proposals as co-sponsors. The proposal for a marine protected area in Domain 1 (the Western Antarctic Peninsula and the South Scotia Arc) has been made by Argentina and Chile. Australia is also on board with supporting this initiative. The next paragraphs will go into further detail on these propositions.

Australia is proposing an East Antarctic Marine Protected Area (EAMPA) in collaboration with the European Union and its Member States, as well as co-sponsors including India, New Zealand, Norway, Republic of Korea, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States of America, and Uruguay. This would be a contribution to a more representative system of Antarctic Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). In 2012, the EAMPA proposal was initially presented to CCAMLR by Australia, the European Union, and the Member States of the European Union.

Examples of biodiversity in high latitudes of Indian sector of the Southern Ocean would be preserved thanks to the planned East Antarctic Marine Protected Area (MPA). The region is home to unique species of flora and fauna that are only found in deep water and plays crucial functions in the ecology, such as providing feeding grounds for marine mammals, penguins, and other seabirds. The proposed MPA would also include scientific reference zones, which would be of assistance in gaining a better knowledge of the effects of fishing outside of the MPAs, as well as the consequences of climate change on the ecosystems of the Antarctic and Southern Ocean.

The Southern Ocean contains a great variety of distinct biogeographic zones, and marine protected areas (MPAs) will play an important part in the process of preserving representative parts of each.

The East Antarctic Marine Protected Area plan consists of a Management Plan for the MPA as well as a list of priorities for a Research and Monitoring Plan.

The proposal for the East Antarctic MPA was prepared in 2010 based on the concepts of comprehensiveness, adequacy, and representativeness, and it has been endorsed and reaffirmed on three separate occasions by CCAMLR’s Scientific Committee as embodying the best scientific evidence currently available.

For a study to be considered comprehensive, the combined region must be of a size that is large enough to include all possible types of ecosystems, particularly those that are found in ecologically separate provinces.

The term “adequate” refers to both the size and location of the areas that are necessary to maintain the biodiversity contained inside the MPAs, as well as to provide for resilience and adaptation to the effects of climate change.

The representativeness of the MPA system guarantees that all forms of wildlife will be maintained and represented there.

The marine protected area (MPA) that is being planned for East Antarctica has the goal of protecting areas of biodiversity that are representative of the open ocean and the seafloor. It comprises around one million square kilometers and is divided into three distinct areas, which are as follows:

In the West Kerguelen Sub-province, the MacRobertson area is typical of the extremely productive coastal and oceanic food webs. It is here that marine mammals and birds feed during the summer months. This region also contains a wide variety of seafloor ecosystems, which are representative of the Central Indian Province and may be found on the slope, shelf, and seamounts. Foraging requirements of Adélie penguins, particularly during the crucial breeding period, played a role in determining the size of the region. The feeding grounds of the local colonies of Emperor penguins are also included in its scope.

The Drygalski region is significant because of the varied ecosystem that exists on the sea floor along the shelf and slope, particularly in connection to the canyons and ice shelves that are located there. Within the East Kerguelan Sub-province, it is illustrative of both the coastal food web next to the ice shelves and the wider marine food web adjacent to the wider Kerguelen Plateau. Within the confines of the planned MPA, this singular food web is the only one of its kind to be found. In addition to that, it encompasses significant feeding grounds for Adélie and Emperor penguins, in addition to other marine mammals and seabirds.

The D’Urville Sea-Mertz area is an important place for our understanding of climate change because it is a site of the development of Antarctic Bottom Water, which drives global ocean circulation and traps greenhouse gases. In addition, the area is home to the Mertz Seamount, which is the world’s largest mountain range. Because of this process, the region is home to a diverse collection of habitats that cannot be found anyplace else. It is particularly important in respect to canyons, ice shelves, and the Mertz Polynya in terms of the seabed since it has a wide variety of habitats on both the shelf and the slope. It also gives instances that are illustrative of other values that are found within the Wilkes Sub-province, such as coastal and oceanic food webs, a nursery location for Antarctic silverfish, and the foraging ranges of marine mammals and birds, such as Adélie and Emperor penguins. Additionally, there are CCAMLR fragile marine ecosystems recognized in this region.

Essential for achieving sustainable fisheries and for estimating the long-term conservation requirements of the region, the proposal for an East Antarctic MPA provides important scientific reference zones for measuring the natural variability and long-term changes in Antarctic marine living resources and ecosystems.

The region is significant because it allows researchers to study the effects of climate change on the ecosystems and processes of the Southern Ocean without disturbance. It is home to locations that are used for long-term monitoring of marine animals, seabirds, and the creation of Antarctic Bottom Water. The size of marine protected area is based on the crucial summer foraging requirements of marine mammals, Adélie and Emperor penguins, and other seabirds during vital breeding periods. Additionally, the size of the MPA is decided by its importance for monitoring large-scale ecosystem processes.

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