The Ross Sea marine reserve

Murray McCully announced:

Foreign Minister Murray McCully today hailed a breakthrough agreement that will create the world’s largest Marine Protected Area in the region of the Antarctic.

“At its annual meeting in Hobart this week, the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) unanimously agreed to a New Zealand-United States proposal to establish a marine protected area in the Ross Sea,” Mr McCully says.

“New Zealand has played a leading role in reaching this agreement which makes a significant contribution to global marine protection.

“The new Marine Protected Area will cover roughly 1.55 million square kilometres, of which 1.12 million square kilometres will be a no fishing zone.

“The proposal required some changes in order to gain the unanimous support of all 25 CCAMLR members and the final agreement balances marine protection, sustainable fishing and science interests. The boundaries of the MPA, however, remain unchanged.

This is a huge win for NZ and the US, but more importantly for science.

Previous proposals had been vetoed by China and Russia but over many rounds of negotiations, a compromise was found which got them on board.

Just as is protected for scientific research, so also is most of the ocean around it.

Stuff reports:

Antarctica’s Ross Sea region, often referred to as the Serengeti of Antarctica, is home to penguins, all manner of seals, whales, fish and sea birds.

The Ross Sea makes up only 2 per cent of the geographic area of the Southern Ocean, but hosts 50 per cent of Ross Sea killer whales, 40 per cent of the world’s Adelie penguins, 30 per cent of Antarctic petrels, a quarter of the world’s emperor penguins and about 6 per cent of the world’s population of Antarctic minke whales.

It helps conservation, but also science:

Antarctic Ecologist Dr David Ainley said the importance of the protection in the Ross Sea could not be underestimated.

The data collected from this “living laboratory” is better known than any other stretch of water in the Southern Ocean, and helps us understand the significant changes taking place on Earth right now, Ainley said.

“It is one of the most pristine marine ecosystems left on the planet and is home to many species found nowhere else on earth.”

The value is indeed the untouched ecosystem.