Over the last month Jon Cruddas MP received many letters from constituents regarding the proposed Antarctic Ocean Sanctuary in the Weddell Sea. In these letters, constituents expressed their concerns over the International Antarctic Ocean Commission meeting in October. This meeting is set to discuss the proposed sanctuary which will cover 1.8 million square kilometers of ocean. In order for this project to become a reality it requires a consensus from 25 governments, and Jon Cruddas MP has urged the UK to exert its influence at the conference.

Jon took these concerns and wrote a letter to the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Jeremy Hunt, urging him to persuade other countries in the Commission to support the proposed sanctuary. This week, Jon received a response from The Minister responsible for the Polar Regions.

The letter to Mr. Hunt called on him to represent the UK in October and actively persuade other nations to support the Antarctic Ocean Sanctuary. It explained that the current permitted rates of krill fishing has increased the risk for depletion of some predator populations. This is an issue because krill serve the vital role of removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Overfishing in recent years has disrupted the marine food chain and has had a negative effect on whale, penguin, and seal populations.

The response letter from the Rt Hon Sir Alan Duncan MP explained that the UK is a committed and leading member of the Antarctic Treaty System and its objectives to protect and conserve Antarctica and the Southern Ocean. He explains that the UK strongly supported the designation of the Ross Sea region Marine Protected Area in 2016 and they are an active co-proponent for the MPA proposals in East Antarctica and the Weddell Sea.

Rt Hon Sir Alan Duncan MP states that a Marine Protected Area in the Weddell Sea would give the best chance for this unique ecosystem to adapt largely undisturbed to the expected future changes to their habitat.

The government has promised that it will continue to work with other CCAMLR Members to seek an agreement to the East Antarctic and Weddell Sea Marine Protected Areas at the meeting this October.

Jon Cruddas MP said: “This is a most welcomed response from the Minister. I get contacted by over 800 residents a week on a wide range of issues and interests and whilst I take up every enquiry the responses aren’t always good news. I’m glad that on this occasion the government are taking the right course of action encouraging the protection of our global environment and biodiversity.”