An action plan for the conservation of the Southern Ocean for the attention of policy makers

More than 200 scientists from 19 countries have compiled the first comprehensive assessment of the ecosystems of the Southern Ocean surrounding Antarctica into an action plan for policymakers, the Institute of Natural Sciences in Brussels announced on Friday.

“The assessment of marine ecosystems in the Southern Ocean highlights that climate change is a major driver of species and ecosystem development in this and Antarctic coastal areas,” the statement said. Indeed, this ocean “absorbs most of the global temperature increase, so wildlife is feeling the effects. With the added pressures of fishing, tourism and pollution, this environment and its inhabitants now face an uncertain future.

So in this report, published in Tasmania on Wednesday, scientists noted 40 key findings. These cover the management, measurement and prevention of change, the value and importance of ecosystems and habitat development in the Southern Ocean, as well as climate change and vulnerability.

“The long-term conservation of Southern Ocean ecosystems, especially polar-adapted Antarctic species and coastal systems, can only be ensured by urgent global action to combat climate change and ocean acidification,” said Anton Van de Putte of the Brussels Institute of Natural Sciences. and member of the evaluation steering committee.

This assessment is the first circumpolar interdisciplinary work on the state and trends and drivers of change in Southern Ocean ecosystems for policy makers and the general public.

“This report can be seen as the IPCC Southern Ocean report, with similar scientific data distilled into a concise, easy-to-read summary,” he added.

Darell Goodwin

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