Antarctic sanctuary plans fail
SYDNEY: Plans to create two vast ocean sanctuaries in Antarctica to protect the pristine wilderness failed yesterday for a third time, with Russia and China blocking the bids, delegates at multination talks said.
The proposals for two Marine Protected Areas were on the table at the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) meeting in Hobart.
But the 10-day talks ended 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 EU 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 USbased Pew Charitable Trusts.
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.
Head of the Swedish delegation Bo Fernholm said the outcome was disappointing.
“There was sadness,” he said. “We were quite unhappy with the fact that it didn’t go ahead.”
Another delegate said: “The talks have failed. Russia and China wanted more details, more time. It’s very disappointing.”
While Russia and Ukraine actively blocked both proposals, China withdrew support for the East Antarctic sanctuary, said the Antarctic Ocean Alliance, a coalition of highprofile individuals, including actor Leonardo DiCaprio, and conservation groups.
It was the third attempt since last year by CCAMLR to protect large areas in the Southern Ocean.
Fernholm said Russia had reservations, believed to be related to the limits on fishing.
Safeguarding the teeming marine life of the Antarctic had far-reaching consequences for the world’s oceans, said delegates. – Sapa-AFP TORONTO: Backers of embattled Toronto mayor Rob Ford have called for police to release a video that appears to show him smoking a crack pipe, as angry residents called for the mayor’s resignation.
Police announced on Thursday they had recovered the video during a surveillance operation of an associate suspected of providing drugs to the mayor.
Ford claimed the video did not exist and vowed not to resign.
Three killed in Israeli air strike
GAZA: An Israeli air strike killed three Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip yesterday, the most killed in an incident on the frontier in months.
The Israeli military said in a statement its aircraft targeted a tunnel used by Palestinian militants to carry out attacks on Israelis.