Gillian Anderson delivers 350,000-strong petition to Government to Protect the Antarctic

Publication date: 9th October 2018

Actor Gillian Anderson visits FCO to deliver a petition calling for the creation of the largest protected area on Earth – a 1.8 million square kilometre Antarctic Ocean Sanctuary – at a meeting of governments later this month.

Actress Gillian Anderson and Greenpeace deliver a petition with over 350,000 names to the UK government asking them to Protect the Antarctic by creating an Antarctic Ocean Sanctuary.

Gillian Anderson visited the Foreign and Commonwealth Office today to hand in a petition signed by two million people globally (350,000 in the UK) to the Head of the UK’s Diplomatic Service Sir Simon McDonald. The petition calls for the creation of the largest protected area on Earth: an Antarctic Ocean Sanctuary.

The actor and Greenpeace Antarctic Ambassador was accompanied by penguin sculptures which have appeared in cities around the world ‘marching’ for protection, as she presented a suitcase full of signatures to the Foreign Office.

“It’s easy to feel remote from the other side of the planet, but what happens in the Antarctic affects us all,” said Louisa Casson of Greenpeace’s Protect the Antarctic campaign. “This month, governments have the opportunity to create the largest protected area on Earth – an Antarctic Ocean Sanctuary – which would be a safe haven for penguins, whales and seals, put the area off-limits to industrial fishing and help to tackle climate change. The Antarctic doesn’t have a voice, but we are a global movement of over two million people and we do.”

Gillian Anderson OBE, award-winning actor and Greenpeace Antarctic Ambassador, said:

“Sadly we have been all too quick to exploit our global oceans, and all too slow to protect them. Despite scientists agreeing we urgently need massive ocean sanctuaries to protect marine life, progress is glacially slow. That’s why I support Greenpeace’s campaign to create a huge Antarctic Ocean Sanctuary.”

Sir Alan Duncan, Foreign Office Minister for the Polar Regions, said:

“This government is doing its utmost to protect the environment for future generations. We are very pleased that government policy is so strongly aligned with Greenpeace objectives. The UK has been unwavering in our commitment to establish marine protected areas in Antarctica and we are using our voice internationally to make the case for practical action.”

Greenpeace ship the Arctic Sunrise in Charlotte Bay, Antarctic Peninsula. Greenpeace is on a three-month expedition to the Antarctic to carry out scientific research, including seafloor submarine dives and sampling for plastic pollution, to highlight the urgent need for the creation of a 1.8 million square kilometre Antarctic Ocean Sanctuary to safeguard species like whales and penguins.

The petition from over two million people is being delivered to governments around the world which will take the final decision, including China, Spain, and Norway. The petition has already been delivered in Belgium, the EU, France, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, Russia, Sweden and the UK. In Russia, which was instrumental in creating the Ross Sea sanctuary in the Antarctic in 2016, the petition was presented to the Foreign Ministry by a penguin-masked campaigner, complete with full penguin-suit. In France, Germany and Sweden colourful montage images of penguins were handed in to government officials, including by Antarctic Ambassadors such as Swedish actor Lena Endre. (See photo and video.)

Casson continued: “350,000 people from across the UK are calling on the Government to do everything it can to protect Antarctic waters when the Antarctic Ocean Commission meets this month. So it’s fantastic to have the support of the UK Government, which has recently been setting the agenda for ocean protection internationally. There are just a few weeks to go to ratchet up diplomatic engagement to make this vast sanctuary happen. When the UK delegation meets with other governments in Hobart, Tasmania, they should know that millions of people worldwide are urging them on to secure protection for this incredible environment and the penguins, seals and whales that call it home.”

Over 80 Antarctic Ambassadors have given their backing to the campaign, including Oscar-winning actors Javier Bardem and Dame Helen Mirren, explorer Ranulph Fiennes, Chinese super-brain Wang Yuheng and even football clubs like Argentina’s Racing Club.

The campaign has also garnered political support from around the world. In September, Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, used his UN General Assembly speech to call for protection of Antarctic waters, stating: “Let me say it loud and clear: those who can imagine our planet without whales, penguins and other species will also have to imagine our planet without humans.”

The proposal for the vast sanctuary, in the Antarctic’s Weddell Sea, is on the table when governments meet at the Antarctic Ocean Commission in Hobart, Tasmania, between 22 October–2 November. It would be five times the size of Germany and would be a safe haven for penguins, seals and whales to recover from the pressures of climate change, pollution and overfishing. The campaign has gained the support of 2 million people, including celebrities and politicians, as well as the backing of nearly the entire krill fishing industry which operates in Antarctic waters.

Greenpeace’s Protect the Antarctic campaign launched in January 2018 with a groundbreaking three-month research expedition to the Antarctic. This led to the discovery of new vulnerable ecosystems on the Antarctic seabed, which will now receive special local protection by the Antarctic Ocean Commission. Greenpeace research also revealed the pervasive presence of plastic pollution and hazardous chemicals in the Antarctic. The campaign has gained the support of 2 million people, including celebrities and politicians, as well as the backing of nearly the entire krill fishing industry which operates in Antarctic waters.

ENDS

Notes

Photo & Video:

For images of Gillian Anderson at the petition hand-in, see:

https://media.greenpeace.org/collection/27MZIFJWHI8TM

For photo & video from Greenpeace’s recent expedition to the Antarctic, see:

https://media.greenpeace.org/collection/27MZIFJW55KKQ

Background:

Greenpeace’s Protect the Antarctic campaign is pushing for the creation of an Antarctic Ocean Sanctuary (Weddell Sea Marine Protected Area), an EU proposal which is on the table at this month’s meeting of the Antarctic Ocean Commission (CCAMLR).

CCAMLR meets in Hobart, Tasmania, between 22 October and the 2 November. It is comprised of 24 member states, plus the EU. CCAMLR is a closed meeting and the decision, which requires consensus, is expected by the end of the meeting.

Since January 2018, Greenpeace’s Protect the Antarctic campaign has:

For a timeline of the Protect the Antarctic campaign in the UK, see here:

https://www.greenpeace.org.uk/protecting-antarctic-story-far/

Media Contact:

Luke Massey, Global Communications Lead – Protect the Antarctic, Greenpeace: luke.massey@greenpeace.org, +44 (0) 7973 873 155

Greenpeace UK press office: press.uk@greenpeace.org, 020 7865 8255