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Biodiversity

Antarctic marine reserve proposal fails to win support

A 10-day meeting of 24 nations and the EU failed to reach a deal that would have created two marine sanctuaries in Antarctica. It was the third attempt at an agreement by a commission tasked with Antarctic conservation.

Plans that were on the table at a meeting of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) that would have created two huge marine reserves failed to reach the necessary unanimous agreement of all 25 participants on Friday.

The meeting in Hobart, Australia, brought together the 24 nations plus the European Union that had signed the CCAMLR treaty. The proposal to create the sanctuaries came from the United States and New Zealand, and would have established a marine reserve in the Ross Sea on the Antarctic's Pacific side.

Another proposal – backed by Australia and the European Union – would have established a protected zone on the Indian Ocean side of Antarctica. Both sanctuaries would have covered an area twice the size of Texas and would have been designated as no-fishing zones.

"The talks have failed. Russia and China wanted more details, more time. It's very disappointing," one delegate, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told the AFP news agency.

The delegate added that China only opposed the East Antarctic sanctuary, but not the one in the Ross Sea. The size of the proposed Ross Sea sanctuary had been scaled back in an effort to appeal to Russia, but the Russia held to its opposition. Ukraine is also said to have opposed both proposals. Russia and Ukraine have fishing interests in Antarctica.

The CCAMLR has now failed in three attempts since 2012 to create the Antarctic marine sanctuaries. All 25 members must support a measure in order for it to come into effect.

mz/tj (AFP, AP)