Climate change has emerged as an important topic in Antarctic research over the past decade, but little in the way of policy or operational change has resulted at CCAMLR. Over the past 50 years major alterations of the ecological workings of the Southern Ocean have been underway. These changes are accelerating as time passes, including regional changes in sea ice persistence and extent. The Western Antarctic Peninsula has warmed more than four times faster than the average rate of Earth’s overall warming making it the region that is experiencing the most rapid warming on the planet: Future reductions in sea ice will be among the most immediate changes, and likely will lead to major alteration in the distribution and abundance of those species whose natural history patterns are closely tied to sea ice. "The uncertainty in climate predictions leads to uncertainty in projections of impacts, but increases in temperatures and reductions in winter sea ice would undoubtedly affect the reproduction, growth and development of some keystone fish species such as silverfish and toothfish (or high Antarctic fish species) and Antarctic krill (Cheung et al., 2008), as well as changing the habitat characteristics of many co-occurring and dependent species." To date, at the last CCAMLR meeting the Commission requested the Scientific Committee to provide advice on the issue of climate change. The Scientific Committee needs to increase its work on climate change impacts in order to consider the consequences of a range of scenarios. One of the most important aspects is to identify ways by which climate change impacts can be distinguished from fishing effects, on which the SC requested advice from the Working Group on Ecosystem Management and Monitoring. ASOC requests Members to adopt a Resolution acknowledging the various adverse impacts of climate change on the Southern Ocean, to pledge to apply a highly precautionary approach to management in the context of the unknowns of climate change, and to include in this approach the establishment in the next few years of a network of Marine Protected Areas of ecologically significant size as refuges where species can best adapt to climate change without confounding pressures from fishing mortality.
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