World's largest marine protected area created in Antarctica

Shreya Dasgupta @CatchNews | First published: 1 November 2016, 20:00 IST
World's largest marine protected area created in Antarctica
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  • Last week, 25 governments unanimously agreed to create the world's largest marine protected area off Antarctica.

  • The new marine protected area, expected to come into force in December 2017, will set out to protect some 1.55 million square kilometers of the Ross Sea around Antarctica.

  • According to the agreement, 72% of the marine area will be set aside as a "no-take" zone, in which all forms of fishing will be banned. The protections will end in 35 years.

Last week, 24 countries and the European Union unanimously agreed to create the world's largest marine protected area off Antarctica.


The deal was brokered at the meeting of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) in Hobart, Australia.


The new marine protected area (MPA), expected to come into force in December 2017, will set out to protect some 1.55 million square kilometers (~600,000 square miles) of the Ross Sea around Antarctica -- an area more than the size of France, Germany and Spain combined.


According to the agreement, 72 percent of the marine area -- nearly 1.1 million square kilometers (~417,000 square miles) -- will be set aside as a "no-take" zone, in which all forms of fishing will be banned. Special zones will be carved out where harvesting of krill and other fish will be allowed only for research purposes. The protections will end in 35 years.



"The creation of the Ross Sea MPA is an extraordinary step forward for marine protection," John Kerry, U.S. Secretary of State, said in a statement.

Antarctica's Ross Sea, located south of New Zealand, is believed to be one of the most pristine marine regions in the world. A 2011 study published in Biological Conservation called it "the anthropogenically least-affected stretch of ocean remaining on Earth", relatively free from widespread pollution, invasive species, mining and overfishing.


The Ross Sea harbors a huge diversity of marine life. It is home to nearly half of the world's "Ross sea killer whales", about 45 percent of the world's Weddell seals, around 38 percent of the world's Adélie penguins, more than a quarter of the world's Emperor penguins, and one third of all Antarctic petrels, according to the Pew Charitable Trusts.


 
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