Say What? Peter Young

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Establishing the Marine Protected Area in the Ross Sea must feel like a win. Can you talk a bit about your contribution to the campaign to establish the reserve?
The Marine Protected Area (MPA) was a huge victory and a wonderful way to complete this 10 year journey. That 25 different nations sat around the same table and agreed to protect the Ross Sea sheds a ray of light on a pretty dark global landscape. I am proud to have played a part in that process and I hope that the many who helped me along the way can take some joy for their role as well.

That’s what is so special about this for me, the origins were genuine grass roots. We were campaigning for a good three years before we made the film, we found out how hard it was to spread the word and get our story in the media so the documentary was always going to be an important part of the campaign toolkit.


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Funding was a continual struggle, we were unsuccessful at the NZFC but were thrown a lifeline when Kathy Wright agreed to screen it at Prime which was supported by NZ on Air.
It was made with about a quarter of the budget so relied on the goodwill of many. Jonno Woodford Robinson, Cameron, Vicki and the team at Park Road Post, EP’s Dave Gibson, Richard Fletcher, Paul Davis, Matt Emery, Plan9, Richard Lord, Richard Langston, Mike White, Chris Sinclair, Audrey Young, Emma, Jen – and so many more.

The MPA itself isn’t perfect. It has a sunset clause which means they will re-assess the situation in 35 years, and commercial fishing continues in a few areas of the Ross Sea, but that’s the cost of consensus. With so many different agendas, cultural values and economics, compromise is inevitable. The important thing is that the MPA is in place, we can always build on that. But end of the day we have left a wonderful gift for our children.

The MPA itself isn’t perfect. It has a sunset clause which means they will re-assess the situation in 35 years, and commercial fishing continues in a few areas of the Ross Sea, but that’s the cost of consensus. With so many different agendas, cultural values and economics, compromise is inevitable. The important thing is that the MPA is in place, we can always build on that. But end of the day we have left a wonderful gift for our children.

Peter Young filming at Cape Bird Antarctica Photo: John Weller

Peter Young filming at Cape Bird Antarctica
Photo: John Weller

What’s happening with The Last Ocean?
When we were releasing the film during the campaign we made the decision not to sell it to a distributor (except for Germany) because we wanted to retain control and use it for our own campaigning. It was released on iTunes in nine different languages and we toured with it in North America and Europe.

In that way the film has pretty well run its course, but we still get the odd screening request. The latest was from the US State Department where it played at various embassies around the world and at the Museum of Natural History in Washington DC a month before the CCAMLR meeting.

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