At first I was really pleased when I saw this news article. Wildlife conservation is important (apart from snakes, I hate snakes 🙂 ) wherever you are in the world.
But as I read further in to the article I realised the designation of a Marine Protected Area (MPA) is actually totally meaningless unless someone is going to do the protecting.
It is not sufficient for the governments who signed this agreement to simple turn a blind eye and not carry out any enforcement activity.
So who will actually ensure protection is in place for the marine wildlife?
Looking at the map above, the governments of Australia or New Zealand appear to be the obvious choices as they are closest, but should the responsibility of protection patrols and enforcement be laid solely at their door? All governments who have signed the agreement have a duty to ensure the agreement is adhered to and that sociopathic whalers from Japan are kept well outside the zone. Will the signatories do this? Somehow I doubt it.
The only people I have seen do any sort of enforcement in the Southern Ocean is the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and when they were prevented from doing so by a shameful decision in the US Court system, Sea Shepherd Australia took the reigns if I remember correctly. (Let me know if I got that wrong.)
Even when the International Court of Justice found the Japanese Government’s claim of ‘scientific research‘ to be utterly baseless, the Japanese took a year off, then decided they would sneak back down to the Antarctic and ignore the ban the court imposed. That is why signatory governments to this MPA agreement must get directly involved in enforcement action and protection patrols.
If the Government of Japan is so interested in research, how about researching how to stop their failed nuclear plant at Fukushima belching out radioactivity? That would be the honourable thing to do.
Then again, whoever said the government of Japan was ‘honourable‘?