Greenpeace is challenging the New Zealand Government to seize the day and help create the largest protected area on earth, right in our own backyard.
This week, a global movement of over 2 million people is calling on 24 governments, including ours, to establish a 1.8 million square kilometre Antarctic Ocean Sanctuary.
The move would create a huge safe haven for penguins, seals and whales.
More than 32,000 people have signed the Greenpeace petition calling on the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade to ensure the agreement of the sanctuary proposal.
New Zealand has an influential seat at the table when governments meet at the Antarctic Ocean Commission in Hobart, Tasmania, between 22 October-2 November.
“The Antarctic Ocean is right in our blue backyard and as New Zealanders, we have a special role to play in protecting one of the world’s most precious places,” says Emily Hunter of Greenpeace New Zealand.
“This month, our government has an opportunity to create the largest protected area on Earth – an Antarctic Ocean Sanctuary in the Weddell Sea – which would be a haven for penguins, whales and seals, put the area off-limits to industrial fishing and help tackle climate change,” says Hunter.
New Zealand is one of 24 countries in the Antarctic Ocean Commission (CCAMLR) deciding on the proposal in October. In addition to the Antarctic Ocean Sanctuary in the Weddell Sea, governments will also consider proposals for smaller sanctuaries in the East Antarctic and the Antarctic Peninsula.
“New Zealand was one of the first countries to create an Antarctic sanctuary with the Ross Sea, but stopping at one sanctuary won’t be enough. To truly protect the Antarctic we need a network of sanctuaries in the region, and our call on Government today represents that next step in realizing this goal.”
Greenpeace’s Protect the Antarctic campaign launched in January 2018 with a three-month research expedition to the Antarctic. This led to the discovery of new vulnerable ecosystems on the Antarctic seabed, which will now receive special local protection by the Antarctic Ocean Commission.
Greenpeace research also revealed the pervasive presence of plastic pollution and hazardous chemicals in the Antarctic. The campaign has gained the support of 2 million people worldwide, including celebrities and politicians, as well as the backing of virtually the entire krill fishing industry which operates in Antarctic waters.
Greenpeace NZ is meeting with the head of the NZ Delegation for CCAMLR, Amy Laurenson, on 10th October, Wednesday at 11:30am – 12:30pm at MFAT to deliver our global petition for an Antarctic Ocean Sanctuary.