Failure of conservation efforts around Antarctica
Recently, increasing commercial interest in the resources of the Southern Ocean is thwarting conservation efforts around Antarctica.
- The Southern Ocean, which surrounds Antarctica, covers about 10% of the global ocean area. Also, about 10,000 unique polar species are found here.
- Marine habitats are changing due to climate change and anthropogenic activities (such as commercial fishing etc.) in this area.
- As a result, the habitats of organisms that take shelter on the sea floor under sea ice and ice caps are being damaged.
- Due to the large quantity of krill being caught, there has been a threat to the creatures that hunt them, such as whales, seals, penguins, etc.
Importance of Antarctica
- Antarctica and its surrounding Southern Ocean are major drivers of Earth’s oceanic and atmospheric systems.
- Antarctica’s environment provides a valuable benchmark for climate change.
- The ice of Antarctica deflects some of the sun’s rays from the Earth. This keeps the temperature livable.
Global efforts to protect Antarctica
- The Antarctica Treaty was signed in the year 1959. Its objectives were to demilitarize Antarctica, promote international scientific cooperation, etc. India is a member of this treaty.
- Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Seals, 1972.
- Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources, 1982 (ratified by India).
- Protocol on Environment-Protection to the Antarctic Treaty (Madrid Protocol), 1991. India is a signatory nation to it.
- The Indian Antarctic Program started in 1981. Under this, three base stations named Dakshin Gangotri (1983), Maitri (1988) and Bharati (2012) were established for research in Antarctica. Maitri and Bharti are still fully functional.
Source – Down to Earth