India extends support for protecting the Antarctic environment and for designating East Antarctica and the Weddell Sea as Marine Protected Areas (MPAs)

What is the news?

Recently, India has extended its support for protecting the Antarctic environment and for co-sponsoring the proposal of the European Union for designating East Antarctica and the Weddell Sea as Marine Protected Areas (MPAs).

About the proposal to designate East Antarctica and the Weddell Sea as MPAs

The proposal to designate East Antarctica and the Weddell Sea as MPAs was first put forth to the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) in 2020. But the proposal could not reach a consensus at that time.

Till then, substantial progress has been made with Australia, Norway, Uruguay and the United Kingdom agreeing to co-sponsor the proposal. Now India will also join these countries in co-sponsoring the MPA proposals.

This is the first time India is considering co-sponsoring an MPA proposal at the CCAMLR.

What is the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR)?

CCAMLR is an international treaty to manage Antarctic fisheries to preserve species diversity and stability of the entire Antarctic marine ecosystem. It came into force in April 1982.

India has been a permanent member of the CCAMLR since 1986. Work pertaining to the CCAMLR is coordinated in India by the Ministry of Earth Sciences through its attached office, the Centre for Marine Living Resources and Ecology (CMLRE) in Kochi, Kerala.

What is a Marine Protected Area (MPA)?

An MPA is a marine protected area that provides protection for all or part of its natural resources. Certain activities within an MPA are limited or prohibited to meet specific conservation, habitat protection, ecosystem monitoring, or fisheries management objectives.

Since 2009, CCAMLR members have developed proposals for MPAs for various regions of the Southern Ocean. CCAMLR’s scientific committee examines these proposals. After CCAMLR members agree upon them, elaborate conservation measures will be set out by CCAMLR.

India’s Antarctic expedition

India had embarked on an Antarctic expedition in 1981, through the Southern Indian Ocean sector. To date, India had completed 40 expeditions, with plans for the 41st expedition in 2021-22.

Read more: India launches 40th Scientific expedition to Antarctica

Source:  This post is based on the article “India extends support for protecting the Antarctic environment and for designating East Antarctica and the Weddell Sea as Marine Protected Areas (MPAs)” published in PIB on 30th September 2021.

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