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Russia has stalled U.S. and European initiatives to establish no-take marine protected areas in the Southern Ocean, ending a landmark meeting to debate protections for Antarctic wildlife.
The defeat came at an extraordinary gathering in Germany of the intergovernmental Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), which concluded without an agreement.
The advocacy group Ocean Elders, in an open letter to Vladimir Putin, had urged the Russian president to back the sanctuaries and exercise Moscow's "critical leadership role [...] in determining the future of Antarctica."
The signatories -- who include British entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson; Jean-Michel Cousteau, the first son of the late French ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau; and Canadian filmmaker-explorer James Cameron -- urged passage to "reaffirm the leadership of CCAMLR member countries on marine conservation of the high seas and leave a substantial legacy for future generations."