Antarctica’s Ross Sea declared marine conservation zone

Antarctica’s Ross Sea declared marine conservation zone

As a conservation advocate, I’m delighted to hear that a recent decision has been made by the Commission for Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) to establish a large marine protected area (MPA) in Antarctica’s Ross Sea in the Southern Ocean.

While it may seem like an inhospitable climate to humans, it’s well known to be one of the most bio-diverse and prosperous ecosystems on the planet, home to hundreds of different species; which is why it’s so important that we do everything we can to preserve it.

A long awaited decision

Naturally, the decision to establish a vast MPA wasn’t reached overnight, as the CCAMLR and various conservation organisations have been working for some time to find a diplomatic solution for the protection of Antarctica’s marine life. The initial proposal to create a marine protected area in the Ross Sea was first put forward in 2011 by the delegates from the United States and New Zealand, which has lead to continuous discussions up until this point.

The commission consists of 25 members that include the USA and New Zealand, as well as Australia, Russia, China and the European Union, who have to reach a unanimous vote for decisions to be passed, which thankfully after years of discussions and negotiations between the delegates has happened. This has resulted in the committee agreeing to put in place a 1.55 million km² conservation zone in the Ross Sea, just off the coast of the Ross Sea Shelf, 1.12 million km² of which will be a complete “no fishing zone”.

White Polar Bear Hunter on the Ice in water drops.

Supporting marine life protection

Home to one of the world’s most unique and largest intact marine ecosystems, the species in the Ross Sea have been facing possible interference and destruction from the fishing industry over the past few decades. With residents that include species such as whales, penguins, seals, Antarctic toothfish and masses of krill that are the food source for a number of species in the ecosystem, it’s vital that measures are taken to protect their ecosystem.

Thankfully as of December 2017, the MPA directive for Antarctica’s Ross Sea will be put in place, working towards protecting marine species unique to this part of the world. With the “no take” zone applicable to almost 75% of the conservation area, and the remaining portion allowing some harvesting of fish and krill for research purposes only, this momentous project should make a real difference to Antarctic conservation. Additionally it also marks a significant step in the right direction for marine conservation worldwide, putting marine conservation well and truly on the agenda.

Having been a much debated topic for some years now, it’s great to see that world leading countries are recognising the necessity for marine conservation and have finally reached a ground-breaking and positive decision in taking steps to protect marine life and the fascinating ecosystem that lives in Antarctica.



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