SYDNEY, November 1, 2013 (AFP) – Plans to create two vast ocean sanctuaries in Antarctica to protect the pristine wilderness failed Friday for a third time with Russia and China blocking the bids, delegates at multi-nation talks said. The proposals for two huge Marine Protected Areas were on the table at the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) meeting in Hobart, which brought together 24 countries and the European Union.
But the 10-day talks ended in disappointment with the nations unable to agree to a US-New Zealand proposal for a protected zone in the Ross Sea and another by Australia, France and the European Union for a sanctuary off East Antarctica.
“The international community came together in Hobart to protect key parts of the Antarctic Ocean — one of the last pristine environments in the world — yet Russia chose to stand in the way,” said Joshua Reichert, executive vice president of US-based Pew Charitable Trusts, which had a delegate inside the talks.
Environmentalists said an ocean wilderness that is home to 16,000 known species, including whales, seals, albatrosses, penguins and unique species of fish, was at stake.
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CCAMLR — a treaty tasked with overseeing conse