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Sunday, October 28, 2012

The US and NZ to end impasse on Antarctica's Ross Sea...


By David Beniuk
New Zealand and the United States are holding one-on-one talks to try to solve an impasse over the creation of an historic marine protection area in Antarctica's Ross Sea.
The head of the US delegation at the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) meeting in Hobart says both countries are aware they will need to compromise if an agreement is to be reached.
The meeting is hoping to establish the world's largest marine protection area (MPA) after a deadline of this year was set in 2002.
The US and New Zealand have presented competing plans for the Ross Sea after originally working on a common proposal.
The New Zealand plan is for a larger area but the US proposal is favoured by environmental groups because it puts more restrictions on fishing.
New Zealand is anxious to protect its toothfish industry, while the US proposal would set up a no-fishing reference area for scientific research.
"If you have an MPA you have to establish objectives for the MPA," head of the US delegation Evan Bloom told NZ Newswire.
"Our objectives are somewhat different and to establish this type of reference area is one of our objectives, and so I think that leads to some differences.
"Both have been presented and both are under discussion and indeed we're talking with New Zealand at the same time."
CCAMLR's consensus model means all members will need to agree on a proposal.
Mr Bloom, who is director of the US Office of Ocean and Polar Affairs, said he was hopeful a deal could be struck.
But he said meeting the 2012 deadline was not the most important consideration.
"I'd love to have it happen this year. My main concern is that it be done and done well."
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has taken a personal interest in the progress of the talks, which will conclude next week.
"She has been active in talking with other leaders about the issue of marine protected areas and also with respect to this particular Ross Sea proposal, and she thinks it's important that we make progress in this area," Mr Bloom said.
The US will support two other MPA proposals on the table, one a joint Australian/French initiative for an area of east Antarctica and the other an EU move to protect ice shelves.

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