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India on protecting the Antarctic and designating MPAs


India has extended support for protecting the Antarctic environment and for co-sponsoring the proposal of the European Union for designating East Antarctica and the Weddell Sea as Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) at a high-level ministerial meeting.


GS-III: Environment and Ecology (Environmental Pollution and Degradation, Conservation of Environment and Ecology, International Organizations/Treaties and Conventions)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About India’s statements regarding Protection of Antarctica
  2. What are Marine Protected Areas (MPAs)?
  3. Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR)
  4. India’s programmes in Antarctica

About India’s statements regarding Protection of Antarctica

  • India has extended support for co-sponsoring a proposal of the European Union for designating East Antarctica and the Weddell Sea as Marine Protected Areas (MPAs).
  • India has said that the two proposed MPAs are essential to regulate illegal unreported and unregulated fishing.
  • India’s Earth Sciences Minister urged the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) member countries to ensure that India remains associated with the formulation, adaptation and implementation mechanisms of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in future.

What are Marine Protected Areas (MPAs)?

  • Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are marine protected areas that provides protection for all or part of its natural resources.
  • It involves the protective management of natural areas according to predefined management objectives.
  • MPAs can be conserved for a number of reasons including economic resources, biodiversity conservation, and species protection.
  • They are created by delineating zones with permitted and non-permitted uses within that zone.
  • It offers nature-based solutions to support global efforts towards climate change adaptation and mitigation

Issues with MPAs

  • Most existing MPAs do not have enough human and financial resources to properly implement conservation and management measures.
  • Lack of strictly and permanently protected MPAs limits our ability to support climate change adaptation and mitigation.

Significance of declaring MPAs

  • Strictly protected MPA networks in coastal carbon habitats (mangroves, seagrasses, salt marshes) can ensure that no new emissions arise from the loss and degradation of these areas. At the same time, they stimulate new carbon sequestration through the restoration of degraded coastal habitats.
  • Well-integrated MPA networks can increase species survival by allowing them to move around and escape certain pressures.
  • In addition, MPAs where stressors are controlled can be used as sentinel (research) sites to help track the effects of climate change.

Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR)

  • CCAMLR was established by international convention in 1982 with the objective of conserving Antarctic marine life. This was in response to increasing commercial interest in Antarctic krill resources, a keystone component of the Antarctic ecosystem and a history of over-exploitation of several other marine resources in the Southern Ocean.
  • It is an international commission with 26 Members, and a further 10 countries have acceded to the Convention. Based on the best available scientific information, the Commission agrees on a set of conservation measures that determine the use of marine living resources in the Antarctic.
  • India has been a permanent member of the CCAMLR since 1986. Work pertaining to the CCAMLR is coordinated in India by the Ministry of Earth Sciences through its attached office, the Centre for Marine Living Resources and Ecology (CMLRE) in Kochi, Kerala.

India’s programmes in Antarctica

  1. Indian Antarctic Programme: The Indian Antarctic Programme is a scientific research and exploration program under the National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research (NCPOR) that started in 1981 when the first Indian expedition to Antarctica was made.
  2. Dakshin Gangotri: Dakshin Gangotri was the first Indian scientific research base station established in Antarctica, as a part of the Indian Antarctic Program. However, now it has weakened and become just a supply base.
  3. Maitri: Maitri is India’s second permanent research station in Antarctica. It was built and finished in 1989 and is situated on the rocky mountainous region called Schirmacher Oasis.
  4. Bharti: Bharti, India’s latest research station operation since 2012. It has been constructed to help researchers work in safety despite the harsh weather and it is India’s first committed research facility and is located about 3000 km east of Maitri.

-Source: The Hindu

December 2023