News Article | May 12, 2017
DP World’s UK terminals have welcomed the first services from the Far East following a global shake-up of the world’s shipping lines. Inaugural calls of Asia/Europe services by THE Alliance, which comprises Mitsui O.S.K Line (MOL), Yang Ming, Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha (NYK), K Line and Hapag-Lloyd/United Arab Shipping Company (UASC), saw the 20,150 TEU MOL Triumph, the largest vessel to ever call at a UK port berth at DP World Southampton on May 11. The ultra large container vessel (ULCV) arrived in Southampton as part of THE Alliance’s FE2 service. Southampton is the only UK port to be handling vessels on services operated by the three major consortia of 2M, Ocean Alliance and THE Alliance, according to DP World. All three alliances have started taking delivery of new ULCVs in 2017, capable of handling more than 20,000 TEU containers. The port is also expected to welcome 20,568 TEU Munich Maersk later this year. Furthermore, DP World London Gateway will see the first ever weekly Far East service arrive in the capital when the NYK Lloyd Don Pascuale berths on May 13. The ship will herald the official start of two weekly Asia-Europe service calls, coming just over a month after the port’s third berth opened to handle an increase in cargo brought about by THE Alliance’s Asia-Europe and transatlantic services, DP World said. Two Far East and two transatlantic services will call at London Gateway, effective from this month – THE Alliance’s FE3 and FE5 and AL1 and AL2. In March, members of THE Alliance announced that ten of their services will call at DP World’s container terminals at London Gateway and Southampton. “Welcoming MOL Triumph at Southampton and opening a third berth at London Gateway, as two Far East services begin calling, are significant and proud occasions for DP World in the UK,” Chris Lewis, UK Managing Director, DP World, commented. “It is an honour to be hosting one of the world’s largest container ships as it arrives in Northern Europe for the first time. And the start of Asia-Europe calls at London Gateway means the River Thames is, once again, a truly international port and shipping hub,” he added.
News Article | May 11, 2017
La Spezia Container Terminal (LSCT) in Italy welcomed during the weekend Tampa Triumph, an ultra large container vessel (ULCV) operated by Taiwanese carrier Evergreen Line. Owned by Japanese shipping company Shoei Kisen, Tampa Triumph arrived at the Fornelli West berth at LSCT on May 5. The visit of the 13,870 TEU ship marked the first call of the newly formed Ocean Alliance to the terminal. The 150,000 gross-ton vessel is part of one of four weekly Asia-Mediterranean services calling La Spezia. Built at Japanese Imabari shipyard this year, the boxship features a length of 365.9 meters and a width of 51.2 meters.
News Article | May 10, 2017
The Port of Virginia welcomed on May 8 COSCO Development, the largest containership to call this port and the US East Coast. The 13,092 TEU boxship breaks the previous record held by the 10,000 MOL Benefactor when it sailed to Norfolk International Terminals (NIT) last summer. “We’ve seen nothing like her here. For years, we have been talking about the ‘next generation’ of vessels and the ‘big-ship era’. This is what we have been preparing for: the talk is over, the big ships are here,” John. F. Reinhart, CEO and Executive Director of the Virginia Port Authority, said. Built by South Korean shipbuilder Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) in 2011, COSCO Development features a length of 366 meters and a width of 48.2 meters. The containership is part of the Ocean Alliance’s South Atlantic Express service and it came to the Port of Virginia via the Panama Canal. Early Monday morning, tugboats eased COSCO Development alongside at Virginia International Gateway (VIG). Soon after, the process of loading and unloading began. During the course of the ship’s 30-plus hour stay in Virginia, multiple labor shifts load and unload nearly 2,000 containers. “What’s truly significant is that Virginia is this vessel’s first East Coast stop. This vessel is taking full advantage of our 50-foot channels and an expanded Panama Canal,” Reinhart commented, adding that the port will be seeing vessels of this size with regularity. Reinhart further said the growing vessels sizes and accompanying cargo volumes are behind the port’s USD 670 million investment to increase overall annual throughput capacity by 40 percent – 1 million containers – by 2020. Presently, heavy construction is underway at VIG and the civil engineering work is nearing its start at NIT.
News Article | May 17, 2017
WILHEMSHAVEN, 17-May-2017 — /EuropaWire/ — Saturday, 13 May 2017, the first ship from Ocean Alliance berthed at EUROGATE Container Terminal Wilhelmshaven. The debut premiered the ship “OOCL Tianjin” (8,888 TEUs). In early April of this year, Ocean Alliance took up operations to Wilhelmshaven in its Asia–North Europe 1 Service (NEU 1). In terms of ship capacity, the Asia–North Europe 1 is the largest service offered by Ocean Alliance, as soon it will include eleven of the world’s largest container ships. This incorporates six newbuildings from the shipping company OOCL, with nearly 22,000 TEUs transport capacity, as well as the flagship of the COSCO shipping company, the “CSCL Globe”, with a transport capacity of just under 19,000 TEUs. The world’s largest container ship in future, the “OOCL Hongkong” (21,100 TEUs), is expected to call at port in Wilhelmshaven on 1 July 2017 during its maiden voyage. The announcement made by Ocean Alliance to include Wilhelmshaven in its schedule has already led to an additional success for the site. Several railway operators have published their schedules for the rail connections to/from Wilhelmshaven. These include EUROGATE Intermodal, Transfracht, Duisport, Necoss, Roland Spedition and Roland Umschlag with LOCON. An overview of all the rail connections can be viewed on the EUROGATE website at: www.eurogate.eu/rail-ctw Michael Blach, Chairman of the EUROGATE Group Management Board, says: “We’re delighted that we were able to convince the four Ocean Alliance shipping companies of Wilhelmshaven’s nautical advantages. All in all, we now have eight shipping companies calling at Wilhelmshaven as part of their schedules. This also results in new offers for logistics service providers and rail transport operators, which are making the container port more and more attractive every day for the shipping industry. We are very happy about this and are looking to the future with high expectations.” Jan Schmahl, Managing Director North Europe Group for Orient Overseas Container Line Ltd. (OOCL), says: “This is a special day for us – the day that Ocean Alliance is calling at port for the very first time in Wilhelmshaven. Within the scope of our new, strong alliance, we can now offer our customers in northern Europe a service from Wilhelmshaven which provides the fastest transit times to the Far East as well as an alternative gateway to Germany. Since the announcement of our decision to include Wilhelmshaven in the schedule of our LL1 service, we have experienced only positive responses. This encouragement is great to receive and strengthens us in our decision. A heartfelt thanks goes out to our customers and our service providers for their support, which has enabled us to have such a successful start of this new service.” About EUROGATE: EUROGATE is the leading, shipping line independent container terminal operator Group in Europe. Jointly with the Italian terminal operator Contship Italia, the company operates a network of eleven container terminals from the North Sea coast to the Mediterranean area. Commencing 29 January 2017, the EUROGATE Container Terminal Limassol, Cyprus, will be added as the 12th location of the network. In addition to container handling services at seaports, EUROGATE offers intermodal transport and cargomodal services. EUROGATE was founded in 1999, and handled 14.6 million TEUs Europe-wide in 2016. For more information visit www.eurogate.eu.
News Article | May 17, 2017
The Belgian port of Zeebrugge will now be linked with the Asian ports of Tianjin, Qingdao, Shanghai, Ningbo, and Yantian, China as well as Busan, Korea, through the weekly Ocean Alliance NEU4 service. Operated by French-based shipping major CMA CGM, the service was launched with the first call of the 13,380 TEU capacity APL Changi on May 16. NEU4 will call the 1.3 million annual throughput capacity APM Terminals Zeebrugge facility, which features a depth of 17 meters and seven STS cranes. The facility can accommodate vessels of up to 20,000 capacity. The NEU4 service, which will deploy 12 vessels of up to 17,859 TEU capacity, is one of six Asia/North Europe services offered by the Ocean Alliance, which began operations on April 1 with CMA CGM, COSCO Container Lines, Evergreen Line and Orient Overseas Container Line (OOCL) as members. The Ocean Alliance comprises a total of 323 ships with an estimated total carrying capacity of over 3 million TEUs, and will run for the next ten years.
News Article | May 26, 2017
The number of trade lanes served by the Korean deep sea lines has decreased as well as their deployed capacity following Hanjin’s demise and Hyundai’s reduction in regions served, MDS Transmodal consultancy said in its latest review of non-alliance liners. As explained, the non alliance shipping lines are characterised by having fleets of smaller size vessels, operating in secondary trade lanes and secondary ports. The shipping lines in question are Hyundai, SM Line, ZIM, PIL and Wan Hai, and they are present on the traditional East/West routes to varying degrees, in addition to other trade lanes. The consultancy’s data from the second quarter of 2017, shows that, when compared to the corresponding quarter a year earlier, Korean lines have dropped their European and Mediterranean routes which constituted 16 percent of the previous capacity share by trade line. As a result, they expanded their presence in the Far East-North America trade to 39 percent from 24 percent, bolstered their presence in the Far East to 27 percent from 17 percent and Gulf and ISC-Far East to 32 percent from 21 percent. While not a vessel provider to 2M, Hyundai takes up slots on its network and in return Maersk and MSC gain access to not only their transpacific network but also, for some, their Ultra-Large Container Ships (ULCs). 38% of Hyundai’s fleet (10,000teu+) has been chartered out to the 2M Alliance members who now operate these vessels. The remaining ULCs are now redeployed to the Far East- Mid East trades having operated on the Asia-Europe network last year. As a vessel operator Hyundai has pulled out of the Europe & Mediterranean trades whilst increasing its capacity on the Far East-Gulf & ISC and Intra-Asia lanes, the latter strengthened by the increasing cooperation of Korean shipping lines and the formation of the HMM+K2 and Mini Alliance. Hanjin’s demise has led to its transpacific west coast operations coming into the hands of the newly formed SM Line which intends to enter east coast operations in 2018. The new carrier, which has also begun intra-Asia operations, has quickly acquired 17 containerships within just a few months; a number of these being former Hanjin tonnage. Whilst SM Line’s vessel acquisition policy has been rapid, the number of trade lanes it participates in is more cautious when compared to the extensive network seen by its predecessor Hanjin, MDS Transmodal added. Speaking of the remaining three non-alliance carriers, since withdrawing from the highly competitive Asia- Europe trades, Israeli shipping line ZIM has become a global niche player. With vessels no larger than 10,000teu it has remained on trade lanes where it can compete and where size does not always matter. In some instances, Zim calls into secondary or peripheral ports, such as Tarragona rather than Barcelona, Da Chan Bay as opposed to the bigger terminals such as Chiwan and Shekou. Panamax vessels remain the workhorse of its fleet, operating over 50 of the type at a time when the beleaguered sector has experienced a large number being sold for scrap over the past twelve months. With the expansion of the Panama Canal and the raising of the Bayonne Bridge, Zim is in the process of introducing vessels of 8,200-10,000teu on its Far East – US East Coast, ‘ZCP’ service. Zim also has slot agreements on the Med-USEC trade lane with Hapag-Lloyd and THE Alliance whilst also takin space on the Hyundai’s transpacific PS2 loop. Similarly, PIL could be bracketed as a niche line, deploying most of it tonnage to the Far East – Africa and Red Sea markets. It offers direct deep sea links from China/North Asia to East African ports in a market where bigger lines (and bigger ships) tranship at one of the Indian Ocean hubs. For the time being East African ports are not capable of serving large containerships so that PIL with its modest fleet largely of Panamax vessels can compete even with the likes of Maersk. Whilst these niche services are often run independently, PIL recently began cooperating as a vessel provider on the Transpacific West Coast alongside COSCO and Wan Hai. Furthermore, PIL has additional access to the Transpacific with slots on Ocean Alliance services and with no fewer than 16 x 11,800teu vessels on order it also has plans of entering the Transpacific East Coast trade lane, the review further reads. Wan Hai deploys over 50% of its deployed capacity to the intra-Asia markets reflected by its strong dependency on small feeder vessels, which it often operates on its own. Conversely, its deepsea operations are often characterised by being one of multiple operators (usually fellow East Asian lines) in a vessel sharing agreement. The majority of deep sea deployment is on the Far East-Indian Sub-Continent trade lane where there is a high dependency on Panamax vessels with some ISC ports restricted by drafts and hinterland connections, MDS Transmodal further noted.
News Article | May 24, 2017
NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--On June 4, 2017, the inaugural World Ocean Festival, organized by The Global Brain Foundation and hosted by the City of New York, will feature leading marine biologists, ocean advocates, entrepreneurs, and more speaking at a free, public program called World Ocean Festival Speaker Forum sponsored by National Geographic Encounter: Ocean Odyssey. The Festival is an effort to bring together people and organizations who care deeply about the Ocean and who will stand together for its protection in advance of “The Ocean Conference” at the United Nations (June 5-9). The World Ocean Festival Speaker Forum will feature interactive panel discussions about coral reefs, plastic pollution, fishing and seafood and urban Ocean conservation on Sunday, June 4, 11:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time. The program is free and open to the public at the Ocean Village exhibition area at Picnic Point at the southern tip of Governors Island. The program will be capped off with a closing ceremony and awards presentation. “Fueled by the power of exploration and storytelling, National Geographic strives to connect people with the world around them and inspire them to make a difference,” said Declan Moore, Chief Executive Officer of National Geographic Partners. “We continue to look for new and exciting ways to bring the story of our world’s oceans to life through projects like the Pristine Seas Initiative and National Geographic Encounter Ocean Odyssey – a new immersive entertainment experience that uses ground-breaking technology to transport visitors through the Pacific Ocean where they encounter its greatest wonders and mightiest creatures. The World Ocean Festival is a unique opportunity to further engage with our audience on the importance of ocean preservation and provide a platform for leaders in ocean advocacy, exploration, and research to discuss how we can all work together to improve the health of our oceans.” “We are thrilled to have all of these incredible voices of the ocean coming to join us at Governors Island on June 4,” said Natalia Vega-Berry, Founder and Executive Producer of World Ocean Festival and The Global Brain Foundation. “World Ocean Festival is merely providing the moment for people and organizations to stand together for the ocean in advance of the UN convening to show world leaders how strongly we feel.” “We depend on the ocean for everything from the food we eat to the air we breathe,” said Maria Damanaki, Managing Director for Oceans at The Nature Conservancy. “Now more than ever, the future health of our oceans depends on us. It is exciting to see the United Nations call on governments, NGOs and citizens to commit to protect the ocean and ensure that it will continue to provide for us and for generations to come echoed by this Festival and met with global support." Curated and moderated by Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, Ph.D., Founder Ocean Collectiv, the World Ocean Festival Speaker Forum will delve into the issues that threaten the ocean as well as solutions for addressing them in an engaging way. The program includes panel discussions with the world’s experts on topics including “Coral Reefs and Climate” (11:00 a.m.), “Plastic Pollution” (1:30 p.m.), “Fishing and Seafood” (2:30 p.m.) and “Urban Ocean: Conservation” (3:30 p.m.). The program will include a rally featuring global youth ambassadors for the ocean. In addition to World Ocean Festival Speaker Forum, the World Ocean Festival will include the first-of-its kind Ocean March parade of boats in New York Harbor led by the historic John J. Harvey fireboat. The Festival Village on Governors Island will feature a performance by a Fijian military band and awards for luminaries in the field of ocean science, environmental sustainability, global and local organizing, and ocean advocacy. The full program of activities can be found online at the World Ocean Festival website with registration information and a detailed program listing and speaker bios. National Geographic Encounter: Ocean Odyssey is a first-in-kind immersive entertainment experience that transports audiences on a jaw-dropping, never-before-seen undersea journey. Developed by a team of Academy, Emmy and Grammy Award-winning creative minds, National Geographic Encounter harnesses groundbreaking digital technology to create a completely new kind of entertainment experience that enables visitors to explore the depths of the Pacific Ocean and come face-to-face with its greatest wonders and mightiest creatures. National Geographic Encounter opens October 2017 and is located in the heart of New York City’s Times Square. The City of New York and The Global Brain are joined by leaders in ocean conservation, advocacy, and sustainable development our Founding Partners Mission Blue, Ocean Elders, Oceanic and The Nature Conservancy. This event is made possible by support from Founding Sponsor Toyota USA, creator of the Mirai fuel cell vehicle and National Geographic. Core Supporters of the World Ocean Festival include Peace Boat, Connect4Climate, Ocean Collectiv and NGO Committee of Sustainable Development-NY. Additional supporters include: Classic Harbor Line, Conscious Good, Ocean Film Festival, Style & Resilience, TerraCycle, Waterkeeper Alliance, AEFocus, Connect 4 Climate, NGO Committee of Sustainable Development-NY, Metcalf Institute, Sustainable Ocean Alliance, We Are The Oceans, Clean Seas, Bye Bye Plastics, Monterey Bay Aquarium, National Educators Association, Mukaro, RiseUP, Blue Mind, The Foundation Center, Waterfront Alliance, Sailors for the Sea, Earth Day Network, The Lonely Whale Foundation, Sea Youth Rise Up, Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, Blue Ocean Network, Second Muse, Wildlife Conservation Society and NYC Junior Ambassadors. The World Ocean Festival is a public event hosted by the City of New York and organized by The Global Brain Foundation to raise peoples’ voices for the preservation and sustainable use of the Ocean (Sustainable Development Goal 14) in advance of the The Ocean Conference at United Nations Headquarters, which aims to be the game changer that will reverse the decline in the health of our ocean for people, planet and prosperity. For more information about the World Ocean Festival and to register for the Ocean March on June 4, 2017, visit: http://www.worldoceanfest.org/ or follow us on Twitter @WorldOceanFest, on Instagram @WorldOceanFestival, and on Facebook @WorldOceanFestival. National Geographic Partners LLC (NGP), a joint venture between National Geographic and 21st Century Fox, is committed to bringing the world premium science, adventure and exploration content across an unrivaled portfolio of media assets. NGP combines the global National Geographic television channels (National Geographic Channel, Nat Geo WILD, Nat Geo MUNDO, Nat Geo PEOPLE) with National Geographic’s media and consumer-oriented assets, including National Geographic magazines; National Geographic studios; related digital and social media platforms; books; maps; children’s media; and ancillary activities that include travel, global experiences and events, archival sales, licensing and e-commerce businesses. Furthering knowledge and understanding of our world has been the core purpose of National Geographic for 129 years, and now we are committed to going deeper, pushing boundaries, going further for our consumers … and reaching over 730 million people around the world in 172 countries and 43 languages every month as we do it. NGP returns 27 percent of our proceeds to the nonprofit National Geographic Society to fund work in the areas of science, exploration, conservation and education. For more information visit natgeotv.com or nationalgeographic.com, or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, YouTube, LinkedIn and Pinterest. The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at unprecedented scale, and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in more than 65 countries, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter. The Global Brain Foundation is a 501 C3 not for profit corporation. Our mission is to create new initiatives and ventures to tackle issues where mass participation and collective action can unlock big change. Our current initiatives are in support of the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals and new climate agreements. To learn more, visit: http://www.globalbrain.is/.
News Article | February 15, 2017
Joining effort to assist in creation of the Whale Protection Zone SEATTLE,WA--(Marketwired - February 15, 2017) - Orca Relief Citizens' Alliance is honored to have Dr. Roger Payne, Founder/President, Ocean Alliance, join its advisory board. Dr. Payne's extensive expertise in understanding both whale songs and how to safely study the health of an ailing whale population, will be an asset to the board as Orca Relief continues to seek support of their petition for the Whale Protection Zone Proposition. Together with the Center for Biological Diversity and the Project Seawolf, Orca Relief is a co-sponsor of The Whale Protection Zone Proposition now before the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), which just added the WPZ to the Federal Register, opening a 90-day period for public comment through the Administrative Procedure Act process. "Having reviewed Orca Relief's regulatory petition, Ocean Alliance supports the request to establish a Whale Protection Zone as well as regulatory efforts designed to increase salmon populations and reduce contaminant loads. I am writing to request that you start the process of creating a Whale Protection Zone as soon as possible. I worry that without such intervention these whales may not have a survivable future," said Dr. Roger Payne in his letter to National Marine Fisheries Service's Seattle Branch Chief of Protected Resources Division, Lynne Barre. "Roger Payne is widely agreed to be the most famous whale scientist and conservation biologist in the world. We are honored and delighted that he is not only supporting the Whale Protection Zone, but also joining Orca Relief, as we work to save this endangered population of local killer whales. His presence on our advisory board, together with that of Christopher Clark, should indicate to all who are concerned about these whales that the WPZ is based upon the best available science, in both conservation and acoustics," said Mark Anderson, Founder of Orca Relief; CEO and Chairman of Strategic News Service; and Founder and Chairman of Future in Review Conference. Citizens and groups interested in voicing their support for the Whale Protection Zone should send a comment to NOAA (https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=NOAA-NMFS-2016-0152-0001) before April 13, 2017. Orca Relief Citizens' Alliance is a volunteer-driven 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization focused on recovering the population health of the endangered southern resident killer whales (SRKWs) of Puget Sound and the Salish Sea. Orca Relief relies on the best available science to demonstrate what must be done to protect and recover J, K, and L pods, particularly from the noise and stress they experience from the commercial motorized whale watch boats and the many private boats they attract. We are dedicated to creating a Whale Protection Zone on the west side of San Juan Island, Washington state to provide a safe haven that will assist Puget Sound's endangered Orca in their recovery.
News Article | November 2, 2016
It is a milestone for ocean conservation and Russia’s relationship with the rest of the world. After years of unsuccessful talks, 24 nations and the European Union agreed on 28 October to create the largest marine reserve in the world, around twice the size of Texas, in the Southern Ocean off the coast of Antarctica. The international deal takes effect in December 2017 and will set aside 1.55 million square kilometres of the Ross Sea, a deep Antarctic bay 3,500 kilometres south of New Zealand, from commercial fishing and mineral exploitation. It is the first time that countries have joined together to protect a major chunk of the high seas — the areas of ocean that are largely unregulated because they do not fall under the jurisdiction of any one nation. Signed by members of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) amid cheering and applause at a meeting in Hobart, Australia, the deal became possible because of assent from Russia, which had long blocked the agreement. “Russian support of any agreement is a very positive signal in the current political situation,” says Peter Jones, a specialist on marine environmental governance at University College London. Scientists hope now to see an acceleration of international marine-protection efforts around the globe, in particular, other ecologically precious regions around Antarctica. The designated reserve is a “first dent into the notion that we can’t do anything to protect the high seas”, says Daniel Pauly, a marine biologist at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, who has long sounded the alarm over the state of the world's oceans and declining fish harvests. Members of the CCAMLR had discussed the Ross Sea proposal since it was made by the United States and New Zealand in 2012. Observers think that Russia’s change of heart might have been the result of intense, behind-the-scene discussions on the issue in recent months between US secretary of state, John Kerry, and his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov. In politically turbulent times, Russia is “pleased to be part of this collaborative international effort”, Sergei Ivanov, special representative on ecology to the Russian President Vladimir Putin, told the BBC. Although still relatively healthy, the Ross Sea has experienced a growth in fishing, which has begun to decimate stocks of the Antarctic toothfish (Dissostichus mawsoni), a predator. Also in decline is the Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba), a shrimp-like crustacean that is one of the largest protein sources on Earth and a key creature in the marine food web off Antarctica. The deal includes some compromises. These might have been necessary to winning the support of Russia, which operates a large fishing fleet in the region, says Jones. Most of the reserve — 1,117,000 km2 — will be closed to all commercial marine activities. But a further 322,000 km2 “krill research zone” will allow controlled fishing, known as “research fishing” and another 110,000 km2 will be a "special research zone” open for limited fishing of both krill and toothfish. This means that although the total area of the marine reserve is bigger than the next largest — Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument near Hawaii — the area that is completely restricted is slightly smaller. And for now, a ‘sunset clause’ specifies that the designated zone expires in 35 years, meaning it would not fully qualify as a marine protected area (MPA) under the strict rules set by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. “We do regret this,” says Mike Walker, project director of the Antarctic Ocean Alliance, a campaign group, in Washington DC. “But we are confident that decision-makers will come to realize that the best way to conserve the ocean is to protect it forever.” On the whole, scientists reacted enthusiastically to the decision. “This is unprecedented protection for the Southern Ocean,” says Kirsten Grorud-Colvert, a marine biologist at Oregon State University in Corvallis. The Ross Sea contains one of the least-altered ecosystems on Earth, she says. But that ecosystem is vulnerable to human disturbance and the effects of climate change. “Setting aside an area free from fishing stresses in this marine reserve provides a reference point and a place for research to evaluate how systems respond to climate change and to learn how to foster resilience,” she says. “It means we will protect one of the last parts of the world with a functioning natural ecosystem, with a complete array of marine mammals, seabirds and other marine life,” adds Pauly. But others caution that ocean protection zones alone will not stop the decline in marine biodiversity, and do not provide a solution to overfishing because they may just move fishing to another spot. “If fishing is the problem then they should reduce fishing pressure, not move it around,” says Ray Hilborn, a fisheries specialist at the University of Washington in Seattle. “Indeed, MPA might also stand for ‘Move Problems Elsewhere’.” The CCAMLR will discuss further proposals next year to create protected zones of roughly similar size off the coast of East Antarctica and in the Weddell Sea. Chile and Argentina, meanwhile, are working on a proposal to protect the high seas surrounding the Antarctic Peninsula, the most rapidly warming part of the frozen continent.
News Article | October 27, 2016
Campaigners believe a proposal to establish a vast marine reserve in the seas around Antarctica will finally be accepted this week. An international commission is looking to safeguard a massive section of the Ross Sea, home to penguins, petrels and killer whales. The proposed marine protected area (MPA) would ban fishing and drilling in a region dubbed "the last ocean". Experts say it could set a precedent for other areas of the high seas. Consisting of 24 countries plus the European Union, the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) was established in 1980 with a mission to protect the common resources of the Southern Ocean. While Antarctica itself is protected by the Madrid Protocol which declares the region a "natural reserve, devoted to peace and science", the surrounding waters have increasingly become the focus for commercial fishing fleets, attracted by vast quantities of krill and toothfish. One of the first attempts to limit these activities came from the UK which proposed the creation of the South Orkney Marine Protected Area at CCAMLR in 2009. While this was successful in limiting fishing in an area of some 94,000 sq km around the South Orkneys, attempts since then to give protection to much larger bodies of water around Antarctica have become bogged down in political disputes. At the end of negotiations last year, Russia was seen as the one country holding out against a consensus on the Ross Sea. Other proposal for MPAs in East Antarctica and the Weddell Sea are also on the table this year but there is a growing belief that Russia will support the Ross Sea option this time round. President Putin has designated 2017 as the Year of Ecology and the country has recently expanded an MPA around Franz Josef Land in the Arctic. "People have come into it feeling very positive that this could be the year," said Cassandra Brooks, a phd student at Stanford University who has recently published a study on the workings of CCAMLR. "Despite the US and Russian tensions in other parts of the world, historically countries have worked wonders in the Antarctic and I hope this will be a case where we see science and diplomacy working." While the Ross Sea, its shelf and slope only comprise 2% of the Southern Ocean they are home to 38% of the world's Adelie penguins, 30% of the world's Antarctic petrels and around 6% of the world's population of Antarctic minke whales. The region is important to the rest of the planet as the upwelling of nutrients from the deep waters encounter currents which carry them around the world. Krill are a staple food for species including whales and seals, and their oil is critical for salmon farming. However there are concerns that overfishing and climate change are having significant impacts on their numbers. The current proposal, introduced by New Zealand and the US, would see a general protection "no-take" zone where nothing could be removed including marine life and minerals. There would also be special zones where fishing from krill and toothfish would be allowed for research purposes. "Right now, 24 countries and the EU are negotiating what could be the first-ever large-scale marine sanctuary in international waters," said Mike Walker, from the Antarctic Ocean Alliance, a coalition of environmental campaigners. "An agreement would be an historic move to protect the ocean," he said. One of the key questions in the negotiations is how long the MPA should last. China is on the record as stating it believes that 20 years is long enough. Many conservationists say this is far too short, given the lifespan of creatures that life in the Ross Sea, such as whales. "We'll see what it is," said Cassandra Brooks. "It will have value for the times it's in place but can it meet its objectives in such a short duration? That's something that a lot of people are worried about." One of the other big concerns that could halt the Ross Sea proposal is the fact that it might set a precedent for other high seas negotiations around the world, such as in the Arctic and in attempts by the UN to develop a new marine biodiversity treaty. "For some states it comes down to economics, for others it is about setting a precedent," said Cassandra Brooks. "For others it might be cultural, a lot of people might say that MPAs are a very western thing so there could be some breakdown there. "I am optimistic, sometimes it just takes time and the political window of opportunity - are we in that? It remains to be seen." Follow Matt on Twitter @mattmcgrathBBC and on Facebook.