Ministerial meeting on the designation of CCAMLR MPAs

28 April 2021

28 April 2021, 9pm AEST

Ministerial online meeting

Thank you Commissioner Sinkevicius (SINK-A_VAH-CHOOS) – for hosting us and for your leadership in bringing us together today.

It is a great pleasure and honour to meet you all virtually.

I acknowledge my ministerial colleagues and senior officials from many CCAMLR nations. Thank you for your ongoing support for CCAMLR and your leadership in protecting our treasured Antarctic marine life. 

Australia is a wonderful island nation, surrounded by three great oceans – the Pacific, Indian and the Southern.

We see ourselves as world leaders in the management, conservation and sustainable use of our oceans.

And in the face of global climate change today, the health and protection of our oceans – along with the myriad of species they support and we depend on - has never been more critical.

Our national system of marine protected areas, covers 37 per cent of Australian waters. It’s one of the largest in the world. And we are working to grow that even further.

We were an original signatory to the Antarctic Treaty 61 years ago, steadfastly committing to a non-militarised region and collaborative scientific endeavour; and I might add we were an original signatory of CCAMLR forty years ago. 

That commitment is unwavering.

We completely support a precautionary approach to the conservation of Antarctic marine living resources.

We support the adoption of a wide range of spatial management tools through CCAMLR, and that includes the establishment of a representative system of marine protected areas.

These are and will increasingly be critical tools in managing the effects of climate change on our oceans, their marine life and the health of our environment.

Large-scale MPAs are based on the best available science and build ocean and ecosystem resilience.

Since 2012, Australia, together with the European Union, has been advocating for the adoption of an East Antarctic MPA to protect areas including distinctive seabed biodiversity and important feeding areas for marine mammals, penguins and other seabirds. We are delighted that our friends from Norway, the United Kingdom and Uruguay have joined us as co-proponents of the proposal.

Australia was also honoured to be invited to co-sponsor the Weddell Sea MPA, and we continue to support Argentina and Chile in the establishment of the Domain 1 MPA.

In these globally challenging times, it is important we persevere, to build consensus and provide collective leadership for the long-term conservation and sustainability of the Southern Ocean.

I am here to express Australia’s commitment to work with other nations in that cause.

I will do all I can to elevate the call, and encourage more CCAMLR members to join as co-sponsors of both the East Antarctic and Weddell Sea MPA proposals.

There is no better way to celebrate 40 years of CCAMLR than gifting to the world protection of one of our great natural treasures.

I have great faith that by working together we can protect our precious Antarctic marine life and their ecosystems for future generations.

The world is watching us. Now is our time to act.