Ross Sea protection

Stuff reports:

New Zealand is likely to shift its position on protection for the Ross Sea in Antarctica, Prime Minister John Key has confirmed.

Fairfax NZ revealed yesterday that a joint NZ-United States proposal for a marine sanctuary is set to be scaled back after pressure from fishing nations.

Key said today officials are working on a new plan, ahead of talks in Tasmania next month.

An earlier bid, for 2.3 million square kilometre reserve, was scuttled by Russia during talks in Germany in July.

“This is the second attempt to get change, and if we are going to get change we are probably going to make some alterations,” he said today.

Restrictions already exist in the pristine environment, but officials in Wellington and Washington have proposed the worlds’ biggest marine protection area (MPA) to protect pristine waters and overfishing of toothfish.

New Zealand has some fishing rights in the sea – the US has none.

Other seafaring nations – including Norway, Chile, Korea, China and Japan – oppose the plan.

It is a reality that if you can’t get agreement on a marine reserve as large as you want, you have to compromise as a smaller marine reserve is better than no marine reserve. This is not a decision NZ can make unilaterally. One dissenting country out of 25 can block it.


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