Actor Leonardo DiCaprio has expressed his support behind the joint New Zealand-U.S. proposal to apply fishing restrictions in some areas of Antarctic waters. Despite the joint efforts, Ukraine and Russia have blocked the proposal, raising fears that the plan could be shot down.
The proposal to restrict fishing in protected areas spanning 2.3 million square kilometres in the Ross Sea was discussed in Germany in a close-door meeting with an international commission that monitors and manages activities in the Southern Ocean.
The meeting with the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) will continue on Friday night. The commission is composed of 24 countries, including nations in the European Union.
CCAMLR Chair Terje Lobach has reportedly said that Russia and Ukraine questioned the jurisdiction of the commission and its legal standing to designated marine protected areas.
Mr Lobach insisted in the meeting that legal experts had assured the commission of the legality of its power to designate a marine reserve.
Under the New Zealand-U.S. proposal, spawning areas of Antarctic toothfish, juvenile habitats and other habitats of particular importance which are often the target of valuable fishery will be declared as marine protected areas.
The proposal for the East Antarctica marine protected area was submitted by France, Australia and the European Union is also being evaluated in the meeting with the commission.
Even before Thursday night's meeting, Leonardo DiCaprio had urged Russia to support the proposed Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) according to an article published in Russian newspaper, Rossiyskaya Gazeta. Mr DiCaprio wrote the article in reaction to Russia's previous attempt to block plans of making the Ross Sea in Antarctica an MPA.
Other celebrities and international personalities have also expressed their support for the NZ-U.S. proposal include businessman Sir Richard Branson and world-renowned film director James Cameron who also worked with Mr DiCaprio in the blockbuster hit Titanic. They urged Russia in an open letter to support the proposal since it has an important role to play in Antarctica's future.
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