Bundestag calls for action for Antarctica: a protected area for emperor penguins

Cross-faction, the Bundestag calls on the government to campaign for the Antarctic. It’s about protecting the Weddel Sea.

A colony of emperor penguins bask in the snow Photo: dpa

BERLIN taz | Emperor penguins, Antarctic hake or even krill are not as popular as the arctic polar bears. They all have one problem in common: Their fragile and ice-cold habitats are at risk from climate change and use. In a joint motion, the parliamentary groups of the Union, SPD, FDP and the Greens therefore called on the federal government on Thursday to do more to protect the Weddell Sea in the Antarctic. The sea is mostly covered by ice and is the habitat and retreat area of ​​many species that specialize in a cold environment.

For years, the EU has been trying, under German leadership, to designate a large protected area in the Weddell Sea with the “Commission for the Conservation of Living Marine Resources of the Antarctic” (CCAMLR). Before the next meeting of the CCAMLR at the end of October, the federal government should now advertise for the protected area and to do so “at the highest diplomatic level use opportunities for talks with those governments that do not support the protection of the seas in general or the protection of the Weddell Sea in particular,” it says Request from the political groups.

This primarily refers to China and Russia, where attempts to do this have always failed. In Antarctica, they are not only interested in catching fish and krill, but are evidently also afraid of the role model that the huge protected area would have: it would be about six times the size of Germany.

Russia and China would finally have to give up their blockade, the SPD MP Frank Schwabe justified the joint approach of the parliamentary groups. “The insistence on individual interests will not get us any further in the face of global challenges for climate and species protection.” In international waters, international fishing must be subject to rules and there are also zero-use zones, said FDP MP Hagen Reinhold.

“The resolution of the Bundestag gives the federal government tailwind for the upcoming talks”, says Steffi Lemke, nature conservation spokeswoman for the Greens in the Bundestag, he is sending “an important statement in the run-up to the international negotiations.” The Weddell Sea is an example of the fragility of marine habitats and needs urgently better protection against economic exploitation, said Lemke. The world’s oceans are in a historical crisis.