To whom it may concern,
We are members of the 2013 Students on Ice Antarctic Expedition, a group of 70 international youth brought together with educators, researchers and experts to visit and learn about the Antarctic. During our 2013 expedition, we studied the Antarctic ecosystem and witnessed firsthand how rich Antarctica is with life. We saw not only mega fauna such as penguins and whales, but also the microscopic phytoplankton that form the base of the food web. On the way home, we also crossed paths with multiple fishing trawlers, bringing our attention to the threats faced by the Antarctic ecosystem.
We are concerned about the future of Antarctica as an environment that sustains a diverse ecosystem. With the knowledge that Antarctic currents sustain three quarters of the Earth’s marine life, we, as students, recognize that it is the collective responsibility of humanity to protect the wealth of this environment. We understand that krill, as a keystone species, is the foundation of the Antarctic food chain. We worry that krill fishing may become unsustainable. This will affect every species in the Southern Ocean as well as having severely detrimental effects on other marine ecosystems.
Our experiences in Antarctica have brought us to the conclusion that urgent action is crucial to protect the fragile Antarctic ecosystem. As stewards for the future generation, it is our responsibility to promote conservation of the Southern Ocean. We see the creation of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) as an effective strategy in this mission to maintain biodiversity in Antarctica. MPAs are a proven strategy for conservation and sustainable resource utilization. The proposed MPAs in Antarctica’s coastal regions would bring this protection to an even larger area and pave the way towards further initiatives in the Southern Ocean.
In our position, as students who have experienced both the threats to and wonders of the Antarctic, we hope our efforts will encourage the ratification of the proposed MPA’s in the Southern Ocean.
The 72 youth members of the SOI Antarctic Expedition 2013