Saving the Southern Ocean: the penguins need you!

Posted by Willie — 21 February 2013 at 5:33pm - Comments
King Penguins in the St. Andrews Bay on South Georgia in the Atlantic Ocean
All rights reserved. Credit: Markus Mauthe / Greenpeace
Antarctica's land needs protecting, but so do its oceans

Antarctica is special. It’s home to globally recognisable species that we, as a planet, value. It’s a continent apart from all others, and it’s a place we have all pledged to protect for the future.

But this isolated continent is surrounded by a sea, the Southern Ocean, that doesn’t yet have the protection it needs.

In the past few years, perhaps more than ever before, the public has become aware of the frozen bottom of the planet. The centenary of Scott’s ill-fated voyage, the remarkable Frozen Planet series, and countless other documentaries and news stories about penguins, climate change, and, well, even more penguins

We're working with a whole bunch of other organisations, scientists and celebrities to secure more protection of Antarctica’s seas. Everything that lives there depends on the seas, and some parts of the Southern Ocean are remarkably rich in species, or support species found nowhere else on the planet. That’s why we are part of the Antarctic Oceans Alliance.

The Antarctic Oceans Alliance is campaigning to create a network of marine reserves throughout the Southern Ocean. These areas would be preserved to protect and future-proof the Antarctic ecosystem as much as possible, in the face of climate change.

Oddly, despite it being far away with its land being protected and few human activities taking place there, it's still tricky to get agreement to stop them. It may seem a no-brainer that eco-tourism to the frozen continent has to be controlled and done with as little impact as possible, but it’s more of a challenge to change extractive uses exploiting these seas by the various things that get called ‘fishing’.

There are already vested interests catching toothfish, icefish and krill. And then there is, of course, commercial whaling (poorly disguised as ‘science’) by the government of Japan.

If we value Antarctica, we need to protect its seas. That is going to mean stopping the exploitation (of at least some) of them. That needs international agreement, and national leadership. The UK is in an ideal position to take up the latter challenge and be a force for good in the Southern Ocean. Will it rise to the challenge?

Add your voice to demands for protection of the Southern Ocean. Join the watch.

About Willie

Hi, I'm Willie, I work with Greenpeace on all things ocean-related

Twitter: @williemackenzie

Follow Greenpeace UK