The First Marine Park in the Antarctic

Around one-third of the world's Adélie penguins live in what will become Antarctica's largest Marine Protected Area (credit: A. Turney/Australasian Antarctic Expedition 2013-2014)
It’s taken more than five years of bruising negotiations but on Friday the Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources made the wonderful announcement that the Ross Sea will become the first ever Marine Protected Area in the south. In Hobart the European Union and 24 nations hammered out a deal that more than one million square kilometres – the largest remaining pristine marine ecosystem left on the planet – will be protected for at least 35 years, a first in international waters. The practical upshot is fishing will be banned in a region equivalent in size to the combined areas of France and Spain where one-third of the world's Adélie penguins, one third of all Antarctic petrels, and over half of all South Pacific Weddell seals live. This new marine park will create a vast natural laboratory for studying Antarctic life and the impacts of climate change. Perversely, a major stumbling block was Russian concerns over access for its fleet to catch the highly valued Antarctic toothfish. This new deal will direct the Russian ships to other areas where they will catch fewer immature toothfish, protecting future stocks and reducing competition with orcas (more popularly known as ‘killer whales’).

This is a massive first step in the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s call for 30% of the world’s oceans to be protected and is the first of several proposed marine protected areas off the Antarctic continent. A fantastic achievement that show’s how Antarctica can bring the world together. A huge congratulations to all!


If you would like to learn more there is an excellent article on The Guardian at https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/oct/28/worlds-largest-marine-park-created-in-ross-sea-in-antarctica-in-landmark-deal




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