From October 16 to 21, 2022 Track Two will convene experts from across the globe at Esalen Institute in Big Sur to discuss how best to resolve conflicts that are preventing cooperation on significant non-jurisdictional Ocean protections. The convenings will help experts establish common ground and friendships that can positively impact negotiations on sensitive marine systems. We are focusing on a proposed network of marine protected areas (MPAs) in the Southern Ocean around Antarctica.
Currently a global body known as the CCAMLR (Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources) has determined an important step towards protecting the Ocean is to establish marine protected areas along approximately 50% of the Antarctic shoreline.
Krill and toothfish fishing are active in these seas and takes by parties to CCAMLR, including Russia and China, are growing substantively each year as global demand for krill oil and protein rises. Krill are the foundational (and therefore keystone) species for the Southern Ocean, providing food for marine mammals, birds and fish. Krill decline leads to other consequential collapses in marine life, and these lessen the Ocean's capacity to remove carbon from the atmosphere, accelerating already high-impact warming trends.
Climate change is increasing ocean acidification, leading to other vulnerabilities for marine species and particularly krill and plankton. Fishing therefore exacerbates an already sensitive circumstance in the ocean.
Antarctica and its glaciers are melting at increasing speed (if the Antarctica ice field melts it will raise the ocean level by 60m.)
At this year's meeting of CCAMLR, to which the US, Russia and China are all party, China and Russia, among others, blocked all proposals to establish new MPAs in the Southern Ocean, claiming geo-political intention by the proponents of the MPAs (a number of Latin American and EU countries as well as Great Britain.) Ten years ago, all member states to CCAMLR agreed by consensus that the network of MPAs should be established in the Southern Ocean. In 2016 the first MPA Ross Sea was established by consensus of the CCAMLR member states; since that time Russia and China have been blocking the establishment of the Antarctic Peninsula, Weddell Sea and Eastern Southern Ocean MPAs.
Track Two's goal is to bring together influential players from Russia, China and the US to discuss the proposed MPAs and to help each group present their concerns so that these might be addressed in future CCAMLR negotiations.