Why in news?
- A plan for the world’s largest ocean sanctuary in Antarctica has been blocked.
- The Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), had considered the proposal of creating the East Antarctic marine park.
- Member states of the organization failed to agree over a 8 million square kilometer maritime protection zone.
- The proposed sanctuary is five times the size of Germany, would ban fishing in a vast area in the Weddell sea, protecting key species including seals, penguins and whales.
- Consensus is needed from all 24 members of CCAMLR and the European Union for the creation of the marine park.
- But China and Russia had been key in blocking the proposal, which was first floated by Australia, France and the European Union in 2010 before being scaled down in 2017.
- Both China and Russia have fishing interests in the region.
- Antarctica is home to penguins, seals, tooth fish, whales and huge numbers of krill, a staple food for many species.
- They are considered critical for scientists to study how marine ecosystems function and to understand the impacts of climate change on the ocean.
- Plans were set out in 2009 to establish a series of marine protected areas (MPAs) in the Southern Ocean allowing marine life to migrate between areas for breeding and foraging.
- The CCAMLR summit, held in Hobart, Australia (Secretariat of CCAMLR), was able to establish a massive US and New Zealand-backed MPA around the Ross Sea in 2016.