World has a “long way to go” in protecting Antarctica: WWF Australia

An iceberg in Antarctica (Image Credit: WWF-Australia).

A WWF scorecard shows the world needs to make significant progress on six out of eight actions to conserve Antarctica based on a new science report launched today.

The two issues of biggest concern are the inadequate response to climate change and the inability so far to establish a network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs).

On the watch list are the need to improve monitoring of krill fishing, protect iconic Antarctic species, prevent invasive species, and curb pollution.

Significant progress is being made on only two topics: stopping illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing; and reducing seabird by-catch.

The scorecard is contained in a new WWF report Tracking Antarctica which provides a scientific update on the state of Antarctica and the Southern Ocean and highlights recommended solutions.

WWF has produced the report in time for the 35th meeting of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) in Hobart from 17 to 28 October.

The CCAMLR convention has a proud history of achievement in conserving Antarctica since it was established in 1982. However, now is the time to ramp up efforts to increase protection for its spectacular and unique natural wonders.

“Climate change is having a profound impact across Antarctica putting habitats and biodiversity under increasing risk through ice loss, ocean warming and acidification. These changes will also have direct impacts on the climate worldwide,” said WWF-Australia marine scientist Christopher Johnson.

Tracking Antarctica references scientific reports which found:

• A third of Adélie penguin colonies in Antarctica could disappear by 2060 due to the impacts of climate change on food supply of krill and fish.

• The 50,000 km² Larsen C ice shelf – the 4th largest in Antarctica- is developing a rift 130 km long.

• 596 out of 674 glaciers along the west coast of the Antarctic Peninsula have retreated since records began in the 1940s.

• Tourism is on the rise with 38,000 tourists travelling to Antarctica during 2015-2016 season.

• People have introduced more than 200 plant species to sub-Antarctic islands and parts of the Antarctic continent.

“We must ramp up efforts to establish marine protected areas for Antarctica. In protected areas of the ocean, activities are managed, limited or entirely prohibited,” said Mr Johnson.

“Permanent MPAs build resilience and mitigate climate change impacts.

“WWF is calling for the Ross Sea and East Antarctica MPA proposals to be implemented at CCAMLR.

“Our message to CCAMLR delegates is that now is the time to act. We must respond to the threats to Antarctica before it is too late,” he said.

Tourists travelling to Antarctica are encouraged to download Tracking Antarctica via an IPad and iPhone app.

Download the full report here: Tracking Antarctica.

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Ryan Fritz

Ryan Fritz started The Advocate in 2014 to provide not-for-profits and charities another media platform to tell their worthwhile hard news stories and opinion pieces effortlessly. In 2020, Ryan formed a team of volunteer journalists to help spread even more high-quality stories from the third sector. He also has over 10 years experience as a media and communications professional for not-for-profits and charities.

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