29 Oct 2017

Greenpeace launches marine sanctuary campaign

6:58 pm on 29 October 2017

Greenpeace has launched a campaign to create the largest protected area on Earth in waters off the coast of Antarctica.

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Emperor penguins walking on ice in the Weddell Sea, Antarctica. Photo: 123RF

Russia blocked a proposal to create an enormous marine sanctuary comprising 1.5 million square kilometres in the Ross Sea at an international meeting in Hobart yesterday.

Five times diplomats from 25 nations have gathered to try to protect the pristine Antarctic waters of the Ross Sea and they have failed on each occasion.

Now Greenpeace is launching its own campaign for a marine sanctuary, calling on governments to show 'greater vision and ambition'.

The proposal is to create a sanctuary covering 1.8m square kilometres of ocean to protect wildlife such as blue whales and penguins, in the Weddell Sea next to the Antarctica peninsula.

Greenpeace New Zealand chief executive Russel Norman said he hoped the new Labour-led government would take every opportunity to help make the new sanctuary a reality.

"Ocean sanctuaries not only protect incredible wildlife like whales and penguins, but they ensure healthy oceans which soak up carbon dioxide and help us to tackle climate change."

Greenpeace's proposal, submitted by the European Union and championed by the German Government, will be considered in October next year by the governments responsible for the management of the Antarctic marine environment - the same group which held the talks in Hobart this week.

"The fishing industry simply can't be allowed to expand their operations and steal food from threatened penguins and whales, we now have a unique opportunity to make sure that doesn't happen," Mr Norman said.

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