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Claire Christian is the Director of the Secretariat of the Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition, an organization dedicated to protecting and preserving the Antarctic environment.

Antarctic MPA Talks Fail Again: Can the Promise of Protection be Fulfilled?

Well, that was a bust. After negotiations to create marine protected areas (MPAs) in the Southern Ocean failed for the third time in two years last week, it’s difficult to fully express the mood of the government delegates and NGOs who supported the MPAs. Perhaps it is best represented by this photo. Although there were…

Blue Balloons and Binoculars: Rally Kicks Off Latest Push for Antarctic MPAs

Once again, delegates from 24 countries and the EU, plus observers from environmental groups, have descended upon Tasmania to discuss the protection of the Antarctic marine environment, specifically marine protected areas (MPAs). When I last wrote about marine protected areas (MPAs) in the Antarctic, the situation was pretty grim. Nevertheless, the countries proposing the MPAs,…

Russia Prevents Designation of Large Marine Protected Areas in the Antarctic

Yesterday, plans to create some of the world’s largest marine protected areas (MPAs) in Antarctica came to a screeching halt after Russia blocked progress. Although 24 nations and the EU had come to a special meeting in Germany specifically to consider proposals for MPAs in the Ross Sea and East Antarctica because they failed to…

Slow Progress in Protecting Polar Waters

  Yesterday, I talked about the justification for imposing new requirements on ships that operate in polar waters. The good news is that countries with major presences in the Arctic and Antarctic agree that such requirements are necessary, and over the past decade have made slow but steady progress towards creating them. The bad news…

Little-known Code Could Have a Major Impact on Polar Environments

Scientists recently identified multiple new trans-Arctic shipping routes that will be accessible to non-ice-strengthened vessels in just a few decades., Given that such routes would have been unimaginable a few decades ago, this research is yet another sobering reminder of the massive changes that anthropogenic climate change has caused. At the other end of the…

Antarctica Braces for Influx of Invasive Species

Antarctica and the Southern Ocean may seem very far away from civilization, but they are at great risk of losing their unique qualities due to human activities. Warmer temperatures and human visitation are increasing the likelihood that invasive species can take up residence in the Antarctic, and potentially cause major changes. Two studies have found…

Strong Evidence for Ocean Acidification Impacts in Southern Ocean

For years, researchers have warned that the increasing acidity of the oceans is likely to create a whole host of problems for the marine environment. Most of these warnings were predictions for future decades as well as theories about possible impacts based on experiments under artificial conditions. Now, scientists have discovered proof that ocean acidification…

Nations Have Historic Opportunity to Protect Antarctic Waters

When people hear the word “Antarctica,” they might think about penguins or towering icebergs. But the region is more than ice and birds that fly under water – the Southern Ocean makes up 10% of the world’s ocean and is home to almost 10,000 species. This week, 24 governments, including the EU, U.S., New Zealand,…

100% Pure? New Zealand’s Green Image Shows Cracks in Antarctic Fishing

New Zealand enjoys its green image, branding itself as “100% pure.” Yet when it was given an opportunity to make a truly bold move to protect a uniquely undisturbed marine ecosystem, it balked. Last month, the NZ cabinet rejected a proposed U.S.-NZ plan to turn a large swath of the Ross Sea, which is part…