Greenpeace returning to the Antarctic to push for world’s largest ocean sanctuary

Press release - 30 November, 2017
SYDNEY, December 1, 2017 - As a huge marine protected area in the Ross Sea comes into force on World Antarctica Day (Friday 1 December) this year, Greenpeace has announced an ambitious three-month Antarctic expedition.

Between January and March 2018, the crew aboard Greenpeace’s iconic Arctic Sunrise vessel will undertake groundbreaking scientific research including a world first visit to the bottom of the Weddell Sea, which is currently the subject of an EU proposal for a 1.8 million square kilometre ocean sanctuary.

“Almost 30 years ago nations came together to preserve Antarctica as a peaceful place for scientific research, free from the scourge of mining. Unfortunately, the treaty doesn’t cover the surrounding ocean where industrial fishing vessels are sucking up the precious krill that underpins the Antarctic food chain,” Greenpeace Australia Pacific Antarctic Campaigner Alix Foster Vander Elst said.

“The establishment of the Ross Sea marine reserve shows what can be achieved when governments work together to defend our marine environment. And that kind of cooperation is what is need once again to protect iconic species like penguins, whales and seals, who rely on a healthy ocean for their survival.”    

During its three-month voyage, Greenpeace will document the Antarctic’s unique wildlife to bolster the case for the establishment of an Antarctic Ocean Sanctuary, which would be the largest protected area on Earth.

Greenpeace is taking Antarctic specialists who will conduct scientific research to identify new species and Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems on the seafloor, including rare corals and sponges. This would provide further evidence for the need for comprehensive protection of the region. The crew will also undertake water sampling to identify the presence of any plastic pollution in this remote region.

The expedition will also see documentation of the unique and iconic Antarctic wildlife which is facing acute pressure from climate change, fishing and pollution. Award-winning photographers and videographers will be on board to document marine life, such as penguin colonies coping with pressures on food supplies, and majestic whales feasting in the Antarctic Ocean after mammoth migrations.

Head of Greenpeace’s International Antarctic Campaign, Frida Bengtsson, added that ocean sanctuaries “affect us all” and do a lot more than just protecting the marine life that live within them.

“Healthy oceans take in vast quantities of carbon dioxide and are essential in tackling climate change,” she said.

“We’re going to do everything we can over the next year to make sure that not only do the governments responsible for Antarctic protection know the world is watching them, but also make sure they do not pass up this historic opportunity to protect this amazing place.”

 

Notes

The expedition will run for three months from the start of January to the end of March 2018.

Further details of the expedition will be released in January.

See here for a collection of historic Greenpeace images from the Antarctic.

See here for an image of the Greenpeace ship the Arctic Sunrise.

 

For interviews

Martin Zavan

Greenpeace Australia Pacific Media Campaigner

0424 295 422 /

 

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