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Returning from this fortnight's meeting of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), Rod Downie, polar expert for WWF-UK said:

These MPAs are needed to protect some of the most intact marine ecosystems left on our planet, so to see the talks break down is hugely disappointing.

"The Southern Ocean, home to around 10,000 unique and highly specialised species, needs protection. But it appears that a small number of CCAMLR member nations have forgotten that Conservation is the foundation for the CCAMLR convention. This week, many will call into question CCAMLRs position as one of the world's leading bodies for marine management and conservation."

CCAMLR has seen some great achievements in the past. In 2009, the South Orkney Islands Southern Shelf was designated as the world's first marine protected area located entirely in the High Seas. In 2010, WWF awarded CCAMLR its highest accolade - the prestigious Gift to the Earth award - in recognition of its commitment to establishing the world's biggest network of marine protected areas around Antarctica by 2012.

"Now CCAMLR will need to double its efforts to live up to this commitment by next year" said Downie. "CCAMLR needs to focus on meeting the world's expectations to protect Antarctica's critical habitats for wildlife, including seals, penguins, whales and seabirds. A special MPA meeting has been called for the summer of 2013 - it is critical that CCAMLR reaches agreement then to ensure real protection for the Southern Ocean so that the award can be proudly celebrated."

-ENDS-

Notes to Editors:

[1] A proposal was put forward by the EU for precautionary protection for pristine and unique marine areas along the Antarctic Peninsula that are exposed when ice shelves collapse as a result of climate change.

WWF works with partner organisations including the Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition and the Antarctic Ocean Alliance.

For more information:
Cara Clancy | Press Officer, WWF-UK
T: 01483 412 305 | E: cclancy@wwf.org.uk | M: 07917086494
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