Meeting of 25 nations, including Russia and Ukraine, in Hobart will consider proposals on the future of Antarctic research and marine protection.
Tense international relations could sway the outcome of vital research and protection proposals for the Antarctic, the head of a global meeting of scientists says.
Russia and China are among 25 delegate nations meeting in Hobart for the annual gathering of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources.
Representatives from both countries, and others including Ukraine, have previously opposed the creation of two huge marine protected areas, arguing the zones would have a devastating impact on fishing.
This year the commission will again consider the establishment of the ocean sanctuaries – in an amended form – one of which is proposed by Australia, France and the EU, the other by the US and New Zealand.
But international relations, including Australia’s strained links with Russia, could affect the talks.
“No one hangs their coat and hat up at the door, some of those issues come through,” the commission secretary, Australia’s Andrew Wright, told reporters on Monday’s opening day of the meetings.
“We do expect, and it is not unreasonable in a multilateral setting such as this, that there are other issues going on … that do impact on a member’s political position.”
All 25 delegate nations were represented at this year’s meeting, Wright confirmed.
Talks had been going on between Australian and Russian delegations, but they had been affected by the MH17 tragedy, he said.