Antarctic marine sanctuary proposed after devastating animal loss
As we reported this weekend, a colony of Adelie penguins in the Antarctic suffered yet another breeding season disaster. The colony of about 36,000 penguins lost all but two of its chicks because they were left for too long as their parents had to forage farther distances to get food.
As a result, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has called for the creation of a massive marine sanctuary to protect native animals from the nearby fishing grounds.
French and Australian policy makers are also pushing for a large marine sanctuary in East Antarctica to protect against further native species population depletion.
The plan is to create protected zones that would ban any fishing, keeping the area intact and conserving the animals who depend on those waters for survival.
Researchers also depend on these marine ecosystems to better understand how climate change is affecting oceans and wildlife.
The Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) is an organization that oversees conservation efforts in the Antarctic Ocean. In order for the proposed marine sanctuary to get the go-ahead, there must be a unanimous agreement among all 24 member countries.
A marine sanctuary in the Antarctic would stop fish reserves from being over-harvested and allow penguins and other animals to thrive with sufficient food sources. At the very least, the reserve would help stop these populations from further depletion.
“The death of so many Adélie penguin chicks shows just how tough life can be in Antarctica. The last thing these penguins need is more pressure. That’s why it’s crucial CCAMLR locks in an MPA in East Antarctica to help secure a future for Adélie penguins and all the other amazing wildlife and marine biodiversity,” said Chris Johnson, the World Wide Fund for Nature Antarctic program manager.