No marine reserve in the Antarctic Weddell Sea

International commission for protecting marine life in Antarctica has failed for the eighth consecutive time to create a marine park

The International Commission for the Conservation of the Living Resources of the Sea in the Antarctic (CCAMLR) has negotiated the topic: Marine Protected Area (MPA) in the Antarctic Weddell Sea at this year's meeting. Scientists from the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) have prepared the proposal submitted in 2016 for the European Union (EU) - we reported. The plans have failed again in 2019.

From October 29 to November 2, 2019, members of the CCAMLR Science Committee met in Hobart, Tasmania. Among other things, it was the request to create a protected area in the Weddell Sea, the Atlantic sector of the South Ocean. The proposal was seconded by AWI scientists. The time between last year's session and the current one has been used to address retentions from other states, which has led, among other things, to Norway's co-petition together with the EU and its Member States.

"In order to arrive at a unanimous decision to adopt the Weddell Sea MPA and other proposed protected area proposals (East Antarctic and Antarctic Peninsula) under CCAMLR, more political discussion is likely to be needed," said Dr. Stefan Hain, environmental policy spokesman of the Alfred Wegener Institute, the starting point before the negotiations, which have now failed.

Participants have reported that the plans have been blocked, in particular by Russia and China, and resistance is also expected from the new co-petitioner Norway. Next year, the Commission will make a new attempt to create the world's largest marine protected area in the Weddell Sea.


The United Nations has set the goal of protecting ten percent of the world's oceans by 2020. So far, almost eight percent of this has been achieved. Overall, the aim is to establish a network of Marine Protected Areas (MPA) around the Antarctic. In this way, regions should be placed under protection as retreats for cold-loving marine organisms, which in future could be exposed to greater fishing pressure as a result of global warming and the resulting lower sea ice cover. AWI scientists have been conducting regular research expeditions into the Weddell Sea since the institute was founded in 1980. For example, the CCAMLR Commission asked Germany to draw up the protected area application for the Weddell Sea, which was taken over by the Alfred Wegener Institute. Since 2013, AWI researchers have compiled and analyzed data, as well as prepared the protected area application, which the EU then submitted to CCAMLR in 2016.