These days, there were some depressing news saying that we are possibly going to lose one – third of the world’s wildlife by 2020, so we’re chalking this up as a big win for conservation.
The Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR has declared that The Ross Sea, which is located in Antarctica, is about to become the world’s largest marine protected area (MPA).
This means that about 1.57 million square kilometers (600,000 square miles) of the Southern Ocean, will be also protected by commercial fishing and drilling for the next 35 years, once after the MPA comes into force in the following 2017.
Conservationists also hope that this area will be the first of many no-fish zones in the international waters.
All the 24 countries, which are held in Australia, had unanimously agreed about this decision. Maybe The Ross Sea is only about 2 percent of the Southern Ocean, but it is the home of 38 percent of the world’s Adelie penguins and 6 percent of the oceans’ minke whales. There are also some significant populations of seals, fish, krill, orcas, and petrels.
The first proposal of this sanctuary was back in the 2011, but Russia has opposed to that. But, after the President of Russia Putin has declared 2017 the Year of Ecology, the proposal has been supported this time and the committee had a full house.
The CCAMLR Executive Secretary, named Andrew Wright, said in a statement: “This has been an incredibly complex negotiation which has required a number of Member countries bringing their hopes and concerns to the table at six annual CCAMLR meetings.”A number of details regarding the MPA are yet to be finalized but the establishment of the protected zone is in no doubt and we are incredibly proud to have reached this point.”
Although Antarctica itself has been protected since 1991, by the Madrid Protocol,labeling it as a “natural reserve, devoted to peace and science”, the other areas which were around it have increasingly attracted commercial fishing fleets, because there was an abundance of krill, that has been used for aquaculture, aquarium feeds, and fishing bait on a commercial scale.
Only 72% of the MPA will be no – fishing zone, and the rest of it will allow some fishing, only used for scientific researches.
This will also allow the researchers to compare these kind of areas with those that are with allowed fishing, so in that way, they will study the effects that commercial fishing has, as well as climate changes, and other variables, which have effects on the overall status of marine ecosystems.
This news also comes, rather serendipitously, on the 175th anniversary of the Ross Sea’s discovery.
Phillipa Ross, who is the great, great, great granddaughter to Sir James Clark Ross, was the man after whom The Ross Sea was named. She told the BBC the following: “The Ross family are euphoric that our family legacy has been honored in the 175th anniversary year since James first discovered the Ross Sea.”
But, conservationists are also warning that this is just the beginning. Rod Downie, who is a polar program manager for wildlife charity WWF, said in a statement: “This is a milestone for the conservation of Antarctica and the Southern Ocean. The current measures only extend for 35 years.
We want a permanent and enduring agreement for future generations that will safeguard the whales, penguins, seals and thousands of other amazing species that live there.”