This week, there was a major environmental meeting that took place among representatives of 22 governments in Hobart, Tasmania. The 22 nations meet as part of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources. The goal of the meeting was to come to an agreement to protect a large section of the Weddell Sea that lies just off of Antarctica. Environmental groups with the full backing of the UK government wanted to set aside an area that is seven times larger than the nation of Germany. This area of the ocean would have been off limits to fishing.
The negotiations did not go according to plan. Environmental groups and many representatives from conference participant nations were stunned when the representatives from China, Russia and Norway continually filibustered and blocked the amendments to protect the Weddell Sea area.
According to some who attended the conference, representatives from these three nations had no intention of truly reaching an agreement. They wanted to obstruct the agreement and keep fishing open in the area for as long as possible.
Environmentalists know that this area of the Antarctic Ocean helps to regulate global climate change. A large percentage of the world’s carbon dioxide production is absorbed by the pristine waters in this area. Scientists believe that there are only 12 years left in which climate change can be stabilized. After this time, it is believed that the effects of climate change will not be able to be reversed.
Wildlife conservationists were also alarmed by a failure to preserve the pristine area of the Weddell Sea. The area is rich in fish life. It is the home of large populations of orcas and whales. These species will now be under threat from fishing industries and those countries that try to go around the ban that exists on whaling.
The United Kingdom said that it will continue to make a major push to preserve the ocean over the course of the coming months and years. Environmental groups will assess this setback and come up with a strategy to move forward in the future.