I agree that the Government must ensure the UK advocates strongly for the establishment of a Marine Protected Area in the Weddell Sea. Such a protected area would help safeguard one of the last pristine regions in Antarctica and ensure the conservation of vital ecosystems settled in these waters and the surrounding coast.
A number of my Labour colleagues have written to the Foreign Secretary pressing him on the steps the Government is taking to ensure member states support this proposal at the upcoming meeting of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) in October.
While I am glad to see that the UK has backed the proposal, I am nonetheless disappointed that the Government has not been engaging more pro-actively with member states and using the full extent of its diplomatic tools to persuade countries that have not yet publicly backed the proposal.
As you may be aware, only around 3.9% of the world’s oceans are designated for protection, despite a global commitment to achieve 10% by 2020. As such, it is ever more crucial that the UK continues to lead the world in marine conservation and that we do all we can to ensure the protection and sustainability of our oceans.
I have long supported measures to protect our marine environment and to protect and enhance the marine environment of the UK and our overseas territories. I also support proposals to deliver an ecologically coherent network of Marine Conservation Zones around the UK to ensure that the benefits of marine conservation are felt domestically too.
I will continue to press the Government to ensure that the Weddell Sea proposal is treated as a diplomatic priority in the run-up to the next CCAMLR meeting and to ensure that the UK continues to be a leader in marine conservation.