High-level meeting on the designation of Marine Protected Areas in the Southern Ocean

Minister of Climate and Environment Sveinung Rotevatn's speech at the High-level meeting on the designation of Marine Protected Areas in the Southern Ocean, 28 April 2021

Ladies and gentlemen,

As a true Antarctic nation and original signatory to the Antarctic Treaty, Norway attaches great importance to the international collaboration in the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic marine Living Resources.

Norway would like to thank EU and its member states for their continued efforts in following up on CCAMLR’s work on marine protection.  We must strive to keep momentum, also in difficult times, where ordinary processes are constrained by the covid restrictions.

Norway is dedicated to CCAMLRs work to establish a representative system of Marine Protected Areas, MPAs, in the Southern Ocean. We regard the Weddell Sea MPA, as well as the East Antarctic MPA, as important components of such a system.

Well designed and managed networks of Marine Protected Areas are important tools for protection of marine biodiversity and sustainable management of living marine resources. In a broader context, CCAMLR’s work on MPAs will in the end be an important contribution to the global 30% conservation goal.

It is underlined by the IPCC that MPAs can contribute to making marine ecosystems more resilient to climate change. This challenge to traditional ocean management is emerging accross the globe, not least in the Southern Ocean. To be effective in a changing climate MPAs should include adaptive conservation and management measures that take into account the effects of climate change on biodiversity and marine living resources.

With regard to the Weddell Sea MPA, I would like to thank the co-proponents for the close and fruitful cooperation, in particular related to the so-called phase 2. I can assure you that Norway is following up all aspects of this work. In May, more than 80 experts  from around 20 CCAMLR parties will participate in a workshop hosted by the Norwegian Polar Institute. This shows clearly that the CCAMLR community takes ownership to the MPA-ambitions. It also shows that we can make progress even if we are not able to meet face to face.

With regard to the East Antarctic MPA, I would like to expres my gratitude to the co-proponents for an inclusive process over many years within CCAMLR, which lead to Norway joining the proposal as co-proponent last year. 

I would also like to acknowledge the work by Argentina and Chile on the Domain 1 MPA proposal. Norway works closely with Argentina and Chile on this proposal.

CCAMLR’s commitment to establish a system of marine protected areas is based on a common understanding that the ecosystems of the Southern Ocean need additional protection.  This common understanding is a good basis for building consensus on concrete deliverables.

To achieve consensus, it is important that we stick to a science based approach. The concrete measures within the various MPAs must be targeted and efficient, and designed to achieve long-term conservation of the natural environment and ecosystems. It will also be crucial to demonstrate that MPAs can contribute effectively to sustainable and adaptive management of fisheries in the Southern Ocean. If we are successful in this, I believe we can more easily win over those who are still not convinced.

Thank you!