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  • An Adelie penguin stands atop a block of melting ice near the French station at Dumont d’Urville in East Antarctica January 23, 2010.

    An Adelie penguin stands atop a block of melting ice near the French station at Dumont d’Urville in East Antarctica January 23, 2010. | Photo: Reuters

Published 22 October 2019

The WWF urged the commission and its 25 member states to create the network of reserves as per a commitment made in 2002 - and for which a framework agreement has existed since 2011.

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) has called Monday for the establishment of a marine reserve network to protect Antarctica’s biodiversity and help the region’s ecosystems endure the rapid destruction due to climate change.

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The demand is part of a scientific report released by the nonprofit for the annual meeting of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources, which is being held from Oct. 21 to Nov. 1 in Hobart, Australia.

“Well-managed networks of Marine Protected Areas are powerful tools that allow wildlife and habitats to recover and build resilience to future disturbances,” the report said.

The WWF urged the commission and its 25 member countries, including Argentina, Australia, Chile, Uruguay and all of the European Union, to create the network of reserves as per a commitment made in 2002.

The proposed protected areas would be across the continent with an area spread over 3.4 million square kilometers, joining the Ross Sea MPA, approved by the CCAMLR in 2016, currently the biggest marine reserve in the world with an area of 1.55 million square kilometers.

According to the WWF, sea temperatures in the western Antarctic and the Antarctic peninsula have increased more than 2.7 degrees since the 1970s, growing five times faster than the global warming rate.

Antarctic ice shelves have shrunk almost 25 percent in size since the 1950s, resulting in the loss of a key element in marine ecosystems and threatening the survival of populations of krill, penguins, and whales.

The report said the United Nations’ climate change panel has warned that the rapid disappearance of Antarctic ice would have severe repercussions on biodiversity, fish stocks and climate conditions in the rest of the world.

“Antarctica may seem remote but the science is clear where climate change is threatening the stability of marine ecosystems that are undergoing a rapid, unprecedented transformation,” Chris Johnson, the senior manager of WWF’s Antarctic Program, said in a statement.

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