But they won't act unless we speak out now.
Most countries support the sanctuary, but Russia, South Korea and a few others are threatening to vote it down so they can plunder these seas now that others have been fished to death. This week, a small group of negotiators will meet behind closed doors to make a decision. A massive people-powered surge could break open the talks, isolate those attempting to block the sanctuary, and secure a deal to protect over 6 million square kilometers of the precious Antarctic ocean.
The whales and penguins can't speak for themselves, so it's up to us to defend them. Let's change negotiators' minds with a massive wave of public pressure -- Avaaz will surround the meeting with hard-hitting ads, and together we'll deliver our message to delegates via a deafening cry on social networks. Sign this urgent petition and share it with everyone you know:
More than 10,000 species call these remote Antarctic waters their home, including blue whales, leopard seals, and emperor penguins, and many are found nowhere else on Earth. Climate change has already taken a cruel toll on their fragile habitat, but they will come under further threat from the industrial fishing fleet's mile-long nets cast over these precious waters. Only a marine sanctuary will increase their odds for survival.
The 25-member governing body that regulates the Antarctic oceans has already committed to creating these marine protected areas. But the two plans being negotiated -- one to protect part of the fragile Ross Sea and one for East Antarctica -- are at risk of dilution or delay. Shockingly, the talks have been off the media's radar and countries like Russia and South Korea are betting their opposition will go unnoticed, but if we cast a public spotlight on the talks we can force them to back off, and encourage champions like the US and EU to push for even stronger protections.
The future of the Southern ocean is in our hands. Let's unleash a massive surge of global pressure and ensure governments don't put profits before our planet. Please sign and share this petition with everyone you know:
The Avaaz community has come together time and time again to protect our oceans. We've already helped win two of the largest marine reserves in the world. But the threats to our oceans continue, and one by one species are coming closer to the brink. Join me in saving the Antarctic ocean before it's too late.
Leonardo DiCaprio, with the Avaaz team
Protect Antarctic waters before it's too late, says environment coalition (The Guardian)
Alliance Seeks Vast Marine Reserves in Antarctic (New York Times)
Milestone discussions on marine protected areas in Antarctica scheduled for CCAMLR's 31st annual meetings in Hobart (Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources)
Antarctic oceans are under threat (Antarctic Ocean Alliance)
Antarctic seas in the balance (Nature)