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Friday, October 28, 2016

Antarctica to host the world's largest marine reserve


Scientists are to create the world's largest marine reserve
in Antarctica, after years of negotiations.
Some 250 oceanic experts from 24 countries and the
European Union gathered in Tasmania and struck the
historic deal to manage and protect the region's
pristine ecosystem and reduce illegal fishing.
The agreement sealed by the Commission for
Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources
(CCAMLR) will see a 1.55 million sq km (600,000 sq miles)
reserve created in the region's Ross Sea.

The area is roughly six and half times the size of the
UK.
A small amount of fishing for research purposes will be
allowed throughout the protected zone as several
countries fish in the waters surrounding Antarctica for
lucrative toothfish, which are sold in North America as
Chilean sea bass.
The US and New Zealand had been pushing for a
protected reserve for years, but the decision to create the
conservation zone required multilateral consensus.
Russia vetoed the move in 2013 and 2014, citing
uncertainty over whether CCAMLR had authority to
establish a marine protected area, but the deal was
clinched this time after all 25 members agreed.
The Ross Sea, named after British explorer James Ross,
is a deep bay in the Southern Ocean forming one of the
last intact marine ecosystems in the world.
Home to penguins, seals, toothfish and crystal krill, the
zone is a critical research area for scientists hoping to
understand how marine ecosystems function, and monitor
the impacts of climate change.
:: Daring Antarctic Rescue Mission At South Pole
Announcing the landmark deal, New Zealand Foreign
Minister Murray McCully said the plans balanced marine
protection, sustainable fishing and scientific interests.
"The proposal required some changes in order to gain the
unanimous support of all 25 CCAMLR members," he said.
"The boundaries of the MPA, however, remain
unchanged."
Mike Walker, project director of the Antarctic Ocean
Alliance, said: "For the first time, countries have put aside
their differences to protect a large area of the Southern
Ocean and international waters."
Evan Bloom, who led the US delegation in Hobart, said
US Secretary of State John Kerry was a passionate
advocate for the reserve and had pushed for it during
high-level talks with Russian leaders, including President
Vladimir Putin.
Bloom said he was "thrilled" with the result, adding: "We've
been working on this for so many years and had so many
disappointments trying to get here," he said. "This is a real
win for marine conservation."
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