London, UK – Ahead of a major international meeting, a global movement of over 2 million people is calling on governments to make history by creating the largest protected area on Earth: a 1.8 million square kilometre Antarctic Ocean Sanctuary. “The Antarctic doesn’t have a voice,” said Frida Bengtsson, of Greenpeace Nordic’s Protect the Antarctic campaign, “but we are a movement of two million people and we do.”
Over the next week, the petition from 2 million people is being delivered to governments around the world which will take the final decision, including China, Spain, and Norway. The petition has already been delivered in Belgium, the EU, France, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, Russia, Sweden and the UK.
In London, actor and Antarctic Ambassador Gillian Anderson was accompanied by penguin sculptures which have appeared in cities around the world, as she presented a suitcase full of signatures to the Foreign Office. In Russia, which was instrumental in creating the Ross Sea sanctuary in the Antarctic in 2016, the petition was presented to the Foreign Ministry by a penguin-masked campaigner, complete with full penguin-suit. In France, Germany and Sweden colourful montage images of penguins were handed in to government officials, including by Antarctic Ambassadors such as Swedish actor Lena Endre. (See photo and video.)
Over 80 Antarctic Ambassadors have given their backing to the campaign, including Oscar-winning actors Javier Bardem and Dame Helen Mirren, explorer Ranulph Fiennes, Chinese super-brain Wang Yuheng and even football clubs like Argentina’s Racing Club.
The campaign has also garnered political support from around the world. In September, Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, used his UN General Assembly speech to call for protection of Antarctic waters, stating: “Let me say it loud and clear: those who can imagine our planet without whales, penguins and other species will also have to imagine our planet without humans.”
The proposal for the vast sanctuary, in the Antarctic’s Weddell Sea, is on the table when governments meet at the Antarctic Ocean Commission in Hobart, Tasmania, between 22 October–2 November. It would be five times the size of Germany and would be a safe haven for penguins, seals and whales to recover from the pressures of climate change, pollution and overfishing. The campaign has gained the support of 2 million people, including celebrities and politicians, as well as the backing of nearly the entire krill fishing industry which operates in Antarctic waters.
“This month, these governments have the power to make history,” said Bengtsson. “This Antarctic Ocean Sanctuary would not only be a huge demonstration of international cooperation, it would be a safe haven for penguins, whales and seals, off-limits to industrial fishing and it would benefit us all by helping to tackle climate change. The Antarctic doesn’t have a voice, but we are a movement of two million people and we do. Let’s make history.”
Images of petition hand-ins around the world can be seen here.
Images from Greenpeace International’s recent expedition to the Antarctic, see here.
Greenpeace’s Protect the Antarctic campaign is pushing for the creation of an Antarctic Ocean Sanctuary (Weddell Sea Marine Protected Area), an EU proposal which is on the table at this month’s meeting of the Antarctic Ocean Commission (CCAMLR).
CCAMLR meets in Hobart, Tasmania, between 22 October and the 2 November. It is comprised of 24 member states, plus the EU. CCAMLR is a closed meeting and the decision, which requires consensus, is expected by the end of the meeting.
Since January 2018, Greenpeace’s Protect the Antarctic campaign has:
- Undertaken a groundbreaking three-month research expedition to the Antarctic
- Gained 2 million petition signatories globally
- Discovered new vulnerable marine ecosystems on the Antarctic seafloor which will now receive local protection
- Revealed the presence of plastic pollution and hazardous chemicals in Antarctic waters and snow
- Gained the support of nearly the entire krill fishing industry (85% of the total Antarctic catch) – the primary industry in Antarctic waters – to voluntarily restrict their fishing around key sensitive ecosystems like penguin colonies, and to back the call for a network of ocean sanctuaries in the Antarctic
- Taken Oscar-winning actor Javier Bardem down to the Antarctic seafloor in a research submarine, as well as taking actors Alison Sudol and David Harbour, and Chinese celebrity Wang Yuheng on the Antarctic expedition, as part of Greenpeace’s 80+ roster of Antarctic Ambassadors. See media contact for comments from other Antarctic Ambassadors.
Frida Bengtsson is a Senior Oceans Campaigner at Greenpeace Nordic.
Luke Massey, GPUK, Global Communications Lead – Protect the Antarctic, [email protected], +44 (0) 7973 873 155
Greenpeace International Press Desk: [email protected], +31 (0) 20 718 2470 (available 24 hours)