Despite the majority of the planet being covered in oceans, very little of the area is actually preserved or protected. While many land areas are protected to ensure the survival of monuments or species, very little of the same dedication has occurred in the water. In the Antarctic, the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) is working towards protecting areas of the region.
The Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources was established in 1982 and includes a total of twenty-five nations which meet each fall to regulate the Antarctic. The twenty-five representatives include the United States, New Zealand, Russia, China, the European Union and many others. They recently met in Tasmania in order to attempt to create marine protected areas.
The CCAMLR currently has one marine protected area established, with an additional eleven locations slated for potential protection as well. With that said, the representatives still did not come to an agreement for a single protected area during their meeting in Tasmania. The group is expected to readdress the situation in July 2013 during a meeting in Germany.
Recently the U.S. and New Zealand both made it clear they wish to see a sanctuary in the Ross Sea region, declaring it one of the best places to study the impacts of climate change. The region in question is approximately the size of Alaska at over 600,000 square miles and is currently used by New Zealand in their fishing industry. The U.S. and New Zealand hoped that once the deal was forged further sanctuaries could be established with the CCAMLR.
However, the deal between the U.S. and New Zealand fell through largely due to fishing industry concerns in New Zealand. Both the U.S. and New Zealand proposed separate sanctuaries for the Antarctic during the Tasmanian meeting, but both plans went unapproved. Another protected area was proposed during the meeting for the East Antarctic, however, the over 700,000 square mile area was not approved either.
The Antarctic is a rich region for both research and resources, a reason many wish to see the region preserved. Climate change is already impacting the region, alongside issues with ocean acidification. The limited fishing which currently goes on in the area is expected to be pressured in coming decades as other fish stocks prove to be diminishing. Many environmental groups are disturbed by the lack of results from the CCAMLR meeting for the aforementioned reasons.