The Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) made history today by declaring the world’s largest marine protected area – 1.55 million km of the Ross Sea in the Southern Ocean.
“An Important Milestone for Ocean Conservation”
Mike Walker, Project Director of the Antarctic Ocean Alliance, said the deal was an important milestone for ocean conservation, but urged countries to go further.
“For the first time, countries have put aside their differences to protect a large area of the Southern Ocean and international waters,” Walker said. “The limited 35-year restriction for protection of the Ross Sea contradicts the scientific advice that marine protection should be long-term. Nevertheless, we are confident that the significant benefits of protecting the Southern Ocean will soon be clear and the international community will act to safeguard this special place long into the future.”
One of the Last Intact Marine Ecosystems
In Antarctica, the Ross Sea is one of the last intact marine ecosystems in the world, home to penguins, Weddell seals, Antarctic toothfish, and a unique type of killer whale. The region is critical for scientific research, for studying how marine ecosystems function and understanding the impacts of climate change on the ocean. Millions of people around the world have joined the global call for large-scale marine protection in Antarctica.
While the U.S. and New Zealand have worked tirelessly for six years, but the creation of this marine protected area would not have been possible without Russia joining with other countries to achieve today’s historic decision to protect the Ross Sea.
Two additional proposals for marine protected areas in East Antarctic waters and the Weddell Sea are still being discussed. The Antarctic Ocean Alliance is advocating to ensure that these proposals are based on the best available science.
Today’s decision follows years of hard work by governments and the member groups of the Antarctic Ocean Alliance. Working in coalition, these groups and individuals are campaigning to create a large system of marine protected areas in the Southern Ocean. The Alliance has proposed areas covering approximately 40 percent of the Southern Ocean for lasting protection.
Nominate a Hope Spot!
By allowing citizens to elect their own Hope Spots, Mission Blue and IUCN are igniting broad public support for a global network of marine protected areas large enough to protect and restore the ocean’s health. Hope Spot nominations are open! Click here to nominate a Hope Spot.
Source: Mission Blue
Photo: (c) John Weller