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An intergovernmental meeting held recently in Tasmania has failed to reach agreement on the establishment of new protected areas in the Antarctic Ocean.  The Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) is a body established by international convention to conserve Antarctic marine life.  Its 25 members were meeting to consider various proposals to establish marine protected areas around the icy continent, in which fishing and other activities would be limited.  There has previously only been one such area designated in the southern seas.

Unfortunately no agreement was reached in Tasmania, with China, Russia and the Ukraine the most stubborn nations, according to the Antarctic Ocean Alliance.  This disappointing empasse echoes a recent meeting to agree global conservation budgets which also showed the limitations of the diplomatic process in enabling meaningful action on biodiversity protection.

CCAMLR has announced a special meeting in Germany in July 2013 in order to make a final effort to break the deadlock.  That meeting will be a stiff test of the ability of international treaty agreements to hold out against the intense commercial pressures of a resource-hungry industrial system.

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