Leonardo DiCaprio calls on Putin to protect Antarctica’s ocean

Actor and AOA Ambassador Leonardo DiCaprio together with AOA Russian campaigner Grigory Tsidulko have an oped in Russian paper, Rossiyskaya Gazeta, calling on Putin to protect Antarctica’s ocean. Read the English version here: 

Our oceans support all life on our planet, and yet protecting them remains one of the greatest challenges of our time. This July, we have an opportunity like no other to safeguard two amazing areas totalling 3.23 million square kilometres in Antarctica’s Southern Ocean if we act collectively to protect this unique marine environment.

Over the years, Russia has taken steps to protect threatened species like tigers and polar bears, and they’ve supported measures to protect the fragile Arctic environment. Today, Russia has a critical role to play in determining the fate of our most southern oceans in Antarctica. For many years Russia has led exploration and scientific research efforts in this pristine region so it is fitting that now they have an opportunity to lead the effort to protect it. Success in Antarctica needs leadership from Russia, President Putin and the world community. Without it, efforts to protect this unique wilderness will undoubtedly fail.

Through the Antarctic Ocean Alliance, the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, and national broadcasting and publishing in Russia, we have each worked to protect a wide range of terrestrial and ocean ecosystems. The Southern Ocean is one of the most unique and special places on the planet, home to 10,000 species including a wide range of penguins, seals, sea birds, fish, orcas and whales. It has remained, until now, relatively untouched because it is so remote and inhospitable. But even that is changing as humanity moves to exploit these last wild and remote places.

In just a few days, the body that regulates these waters has the chance to protect them and Russia has the potential to lead the effort. At a special July meeting in Germany, the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), of which Russia is a member, will decide the fate of two proposals – one for protecting 1.6 million square kilometres of the Ross Sea (often referred to as the Last Ocean because it is so pristine) and 1.63 million square kilometres of East Antarctica’s coastal regions.

Like the protection of Antarctica’s land through a minerals ban in 1991, this opportunity is a once in a lifetime chance to leave a lasting legacy the whole world could benefit from. The Southern Ocean, while far away, is critically important to all of us, for its pristine waters and ecosystems are some of the last on Earth, and as a laboratory for the study of climate change in an untouched environment.

Like the Arctic, many nations share a common interest in the South Pole. But unlike the Arctic, the Southern Ocean really belongs to all of us and though most of us may never get to travel to this amazing and isolated place, all of us have a stake in protecting it during this critical window of opportunity to do so.

Through our many friends and colleagues in Russia, and those committed to ocean protection globally, we know that protecting our ocean habitats is a growing priority. We believe that in Russia and around the world, millions of people who care about Antarctica are hoping the Russian government will step up and lead the effort to protect the Southern Ocean wilderness.”

— Actor Leonardo DiCaprio supports conservation work internationally through the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation and Grigory Tsidulko is the Russian Director of the Antarctic Ocean Alliance made up of 30 organisations working to protect the Southern Ocean.

The online article can be found on Rossiyskaya Gazeta site here.